Welcome to the Maize ATLAS Project


This is the project website for the USDA-National Institute for Food and Agriculture funded project Analysis of Clinal Variation in Maize: Implementation of an Experimental Framework for Studying Crop Adaptation.

The domestication, adaptation, and improvement of plant species through artificial selection over the last 10,000 years have provided food, fuel, and shelter for billions of humans. In order to mitigate stress epidemics associated with increased volatility of climatic norms, revolutions in science and technology must continue to transform the agricultural landscape. This project aims to develop new approaches, tools, resources and knowledge to help harness untapped gene diversity to generate sustainably growing food plants in changing environments and to expand alternatives to fossil fuels.

Focused on maize, this project aims specifically to: 1) phenotypically, genetically, and ecologically characterize genomic loci limiting adaptation of tropical maize to temperate environments, thereby enhancing breeding speed and progress; 2) increase knowledge about the genetic basis of artificial selection that is fundamental to breeding and has allowed for the widespread adaptation and improvement of crops.


  • AccreteGB: software for genetics and breeding research AccreteGB is an extensible, process-oriented open-source software being developed for genetics and breeding research. Several core functionalities are in place that facilitate field breeding activities. AccreteGB interfaces with a relational database schema with information stored about germplasm, phenotype, genotype, environment, and experiment.
  • NILAS population development underway Now preparing to harvest from the 2012-13 PR marker-assisted selection nursery for a final round of backcrossing in summer 2013.
  • Large-scale selection experiment: 1st round completed; 2nd round has begun Across eight locations (from WI to PR), the first generation of recurrent selection for earliness has been successfully completed. Plant tissue has been stored from each location (1,000 random plants; 500 early plants; 500 late plants) for DNA extraction and genetic characterization. 2013 begins the second generation of selection across these same environments.
  • NILAS BC3: ideotypic tiling paths across ZmPRQTL1-4 now surfacing Lauter lab develops improved Sequenom marker panels on a group-specific basis (i.e. recurrent parent X ZmPRQTL) and crunch through ~10,000 backcross progeny following MAS priorities 1-3 (http://www.maizeatlas.org/nilas.php). Twelve progeny from each recurrent parent X donor parent X ZmPRQTL combination are being advanced to the BC4 generation.
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