Researchers at the University of Missouri are using nuclear methods to find ways to feed the growing populations. Their process has allowed them to determine the mechanisms corn plants use to battle the western corn rootworm. Now scientists believe that information could help them develop lines of resistance in corn.
“The western corn rootworm is a voracious pest,” said Richard Ferrieri, a research professor in the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group, and an investigator at the MU Research Reactor (MURR). “Rootworm larvae hatch in the soil during late spring and immediately begin feeding on the crop’s root system. Mild damage to the root system can hinder water and nutrient uptake, threatening plant fitness, while more severe damage can result in the plant falling over.”