top of page

Research Uncovers Untapped Potential for Popcorn Varieties

Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have delved into the genetic code of popcorn, revealing a previously unknown wealth of diversity that could revolutionize the popcorn industry. The study analyzed 320 different popcorn lines and identified variations at over 308,000 locations across the genome, offering potential for enhancing the crop's agronomic performance.

The research opens up possibilities for popcorn companies to diversify their germplasm, leading to improved disease resistance and herbicide tolerance. By grouping corn lines based on genetic similarities, researchers can predict the performance of crosses between lines, enabling breeders to incorporate beneficial traits into their programs. This breakthrough may ultimately enhance both the consumer experience and the grower side of the industry.

Additionally, the researchers investigated a long-standing mystery regarding herbicide tolerance. Contrary to expectations, kernel color did not correlate with sensitivity to the herbicide nicosulfuron. Instead, the sensitivity was associated with genetic heritage and population structure. This unexpected finding paves the way for exploring alternative mechanisms for herbicide tolerance in popcorn.

The research suggests that popcorn breeders can leverage these findings to develop improved cultivars with enhanced tolerance to herbicides. If successful, this could lead to updates in herbicide labels, ensuring tolerance throughout the crop, irrespective of kernel color.

Although further screening is required to identify desirable traits, this groundbreaking study offers immense potential for the development of elite popcorn lines that could be marketed by popcorn companies. The research, published in Crop Science, was fun


bottom of page