Understanding how plant genomes are packaged can help produce more predictable and consistent plants. A University of Missouri-Columbia researcher says a study on regulating gene expression in corn might also lead to a better understanding of how animal and human DNA is packaged and the diseases that can result when something goes wrong in that process.

Karen Cone, associate professor of biological science, will use the $6.6 million grant she received from the National Science Foundation to study the function of 150 to 200 genes involved in the DNA packaging of corn. By exploring the inner workings of plant genes and the role genetics play in plant development, the research can help plant breeders produce better plants and farmers better crops in the long run.