WARF: P00005US

Cross-Incompatibility Traits from Teosinte and Their Use in Corn


Jerry Kermicle, Steven Gerrish, Matthew Evans

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a cross-incompatibility gene cluster from teosinte that can be used in non-genetically modified, conventional corn to block cross-pollination by other varieties, including GM maize.
OVERVIEWTeosinte is a wild relative of cultivated maize that is native to Mexico and unable to grow in the United States. Although closely related to maize, teosinte does not interbreed naturally with cultivated corn.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have discovered a gene cluster in teosinte that creates a genetic barrier between teosinte and maize - specifically, this gene cluster blocks successful cross-pollination of teosinte by traditional corn varieties. The researchers bred this "cross-incompatibility" gene cluster into a cultivated corn variety, preventing its pollination by other cultivars with which it would normally readily hybridize.

The key benefit of this technology is that the cross-incompatibility gene cluster from teosinte will only be used in non-genetically modified (non-GM), conventional corn, where it should block cross-pollination by other varieties, including GM maize. Thus, this discovery provides a means to support the segregation of GM and non-GM maize crops.
  • Production of non-GM corn
  • Gene cluster is transferred to cultivated corn using classical breeding techniques, leaving corn eligible for organic status.
  • Provides opportunity to produce certified non-GM maize, which may earn producers 10 to 50 cents more per bushel (translating to up to $70 more per acre), and which some foreign markets prefer
  • May prevent unintentional contamination of non-GM corn by GM varieties, as recently occurred with Starlink corn
  • May be used to identify similar genes or gene clusters in other commercially important crops
  • May reduce or eliminate the need for buffer zones between GM and non-GM crops, so that farmers may safely grow GM and non-GM varieties in the same field
For More Information About the Inventors
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Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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