Terry Molnar works in maize genetic resources to identify and deploy novel genetic variation for important traits of interest. His current projects in phenotyping and breeding focus on tolerance to drought, heat, tar spot disease and the maize lethal necrosis virus complex. He and also works on pigmented – purple and red – kernel color.
From among the over 28,000 unique maize seed collections in CIMMYT’s germplasm bank, Molnar and his team select and evaluate landraces in the field or lab, then put the best ones in the breeding program where they transfer desired traits into elite maize lines. This is not easy because in addition to carrying desired traits like drought or heat tolerance, landraces also contain many undesirable characteristics. They use a combination of traditional and molecular breeding to efficiently develop lines that are released publicly where they can eventually contribute to yield stability in farmers’ fields.