UNIVERSITY of Illinois (UI) researchers have teamed with Monsanto to identify genes in corn that can be used to increase the oil concentration through traditional plant breeding or genetic engineering. A recent UI study identified 50 distinct genes that control the oil content of corn, meaning that changing the oil content would be difficult to accomplish by changing any one gene.

The hybrid corn considered to be high in oil content currently being grown and sold has only about 5 to 6% oil. Experimental corn lines with higher oil content tend to have other, undesirable characteristics such as low yield, weak stalks or a tendency to rot.