The Buckler Lab grows Tripsacum to study the genes responsible for its freezing tolerance. Tripsacum and maize belong to the same tribe Andropogoneae within the family Poaceae. They diverged about 1.2 million years ago before maize domestication. Like many other grasses, Tripsacum is perennial, overwinters in sub-zero temperatures, and possesses freezing tolerance--all of which are characteristics lacking in maize. As an important cereal crop, the hardiness of maize can be improved by trait transfer of genes from its wild relative, Tripsacum.
Tripsacum dactyloides is tolerant of freezing temperatures.
Buckler Lab members (left to right) Evan Rees , Emre Cimen, Nick Lepak, Zack Miller, and Anju Giri sort Tripsacum seeds used for research.