Campus News

CAES researchers receive USDA grant to study pathogens in corn

Robert Kemerait, a professor of plant pathology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, received $60,000 from the National Corn Growers Association in collaboration with Baozhu Guo of the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Tifton to breed new varieties of drought-tolerant corn.

Kemerait’s research, conducted by doctoral student Jake Fountain, also will explore the ways in which environment contributes to the growth of Aspergillus flavus, a fungal pathogen that contaminates corn kernels with carcinogenic mycotoxins known as aflatoxins. These toxins are associated with many diseases and disorders in humans and livestock, and they also lead to crop losses.

In searching for more drought-tolerant varieties of corn, Kemerait and his colleagues also will explore how environmental factors like drought influence the development of these dangerous fungal pathogens.