Root cortical aerenchyma in maize hybrids in Pennsylvania and interaction with mycorrhiza and soil-borne pathogens

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,999.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: The Pennsylvania State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Kathleen Brown
The Pennsylvania State University
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Jonathan Lynch
The Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Gregory Roth
Penn State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    Sustainable cultivation of maize in the northeastern US can be promoted by integrating beneficial combinations of plant traits and soil microbial communities in low input systems. Farmers need crops that are more resistant to drought and that require less amounts of fertilizer without decreasing interactions with beneficial microbes in the soil and that resist soil-borne pathogens. Here, we propose a study of the interactions of the trait Root Cortical Aerenchyma (RCA), which confers improved resistance to drought and low nutrient inputs with soil microorganisms in maize fields. Our purpose is to examine the interaction of RCA with arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization (AMC) and root pathogens infection (RPI) in Pennsylvania farms. The first objective is to measure RCA in hybrids normally planted in these farms under commercial cultivation. We would also measure AMC and RPI in the same plants searching for possible correlations among these variables. The Grain and Silage Hybrid Corn Test Program at Penn State University will be used for this objective. A second study will be conducted in the greenhouse. Hybrid plants with contrasting RCA levels that are normally used in Central Pennsylvania, will be inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi and Fusarium pathogenic species. Results will provide insights into possible tradeoffs of selection of RCA in the microbial relations of maize. Outreach activities include scientific publications that will inform the scientific community in our region, reports on our website, as well as addendums to the annual reports of the extension program that will be available to extension specialists in Pennsylvania.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall objective of this project is to evaluate the interaction of anatomical traits of maize hybrids with soil microorganisms in Central Pennsylvania. Specifically, we will:

    1. Evaluate the variation of Root Cortical Aerenchyma (RCA) of maize plants normally planted by farmers in Pennsylvania.

    2. Correlate RCA levels with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Colonization (AMC) of maize plants normally planted by farmers in Pennsylvania.

    3. Correlate RCA levels with Root Pathogen Infection (RPI) of maize plants normally planted by farmers in Pennsylvania.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.