Using a gene known to help tobacco plants withstand chilly temperatures, researchers have been able to increase the cold tolerance of sweet corn by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit. This should translate into earlier planting and harvest dates for other corn varieties as scientists perfect the technology.

The research team, from Iowa State University, Harvard University and a private biotechnology company, is one of the first to successfully manipulate cold tolerance in corn using a pathway activator — a special protein that when turned on, off, or manipulated, has an effect on many genes under its control.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact agronomist Kan Wang at: kanwang@iastate.edu