Dr. Norman Best

Norman Best
Research Geneticist, Plant Genetics Research Unit, USDA-ARS
203 Curtis Hall

Ph.D., Purdue University, 2017

B.S., Purdue University, 2011

Research Summary

The genetic and hormonal control of plant architecture

Research Description

The Green Revolution altered plant architecture to improve yields. However, this was primarily accomplished in wheat and rice. Reduction of plant height was achieved through manipulating hormonal pathways to reduce inputs and lodging to improve plant vigor and overall yields. The genetic factors that were utilized in the Green Revolution to reduce plant height were not successful in corn due to additional defects in the flowers that were not an issue in these other crops. These factors have therefore not been utilized in today’s hybrid corn.

My lab’s research is focused on identifying the mechanisms that these hormones target to control overall plant architecture. We have identified that it is possible to separate the genetic factors that control the beneficial and deleterious traits that these hormones regulate. To do this, we are using a combination of natural diversity and genetic modification approaches to optimally improve corn architecture. We are targeting two hormonal pathways, brassinosteroids and gibberellins, that control plant height, as well as leaf angle, tassel architecture, and ear development. Through this research, the newly discovered genetic factors these hormones control will be introgressed into hybrid seed to benefit farmers.

Awards and Honors
  • USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2019-2021
  • USDA-NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship, 2017-2019
Selected Publications

See Google Scholar for a list of Dr. Best's publications.