MSI researchers are studying food crops in order to develop strains that are hardier, more disease-resistant, and have better yields. Associate Professor Nathan M. Springer (Plant Biology; MSI Associate Fellow) studies variations among different lines of maize (corn). His group has profiled structural variation in the genome of different maize lines and expression differences among genotypes. They are now profiling the distribution of epigenetic marks (chemical additions to the genetic sequence) throughout the genomes of different individuals. A long-term goal of this research is to understand the contributions of epigenetic changes and structural changes to variations in characteristics within a species.