Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Essential Gene For Forming Ears Of Corn Discovered

Date:
September 25, 2008
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Plant geneticists have identified a gene called sparse inflorescence1, or spi1, that is essential in controlling development of the maize plant. It is involved in the synthesis of the growth hormone auxin, which among other things helps to shape structures such as leaves or the female organs (ears) and male organs (tassels) of corn.

Plant geneticists have identified a gene essential in controlling development of the maize plant, commonly known in the United States as corn.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dieter Spears

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) professor David Jackson, Ph.D., and a team of plant geneticists have identified a gene essential in controlling development of the maize plant, commonly known in the United States as corn. The new research extends the growing biological understanding of how the different parts of maize arise--important information for a plant that is the most widely planted crop in the U.S. and a mainstay of the global food supply.

The researchers found that a gene called sparse inflorescence1, or spi1, is involved the maize plant's synthesis of the growth hormone auxin. This chemical messenger is familiar to biology students, who learn that it is produced by the tip of a growing shoot. When the hormone is applied to only one side of the shoot, that side grows faster, causing the tip to bend.

In a much more complex process, auxin also helps to shape structures such as leaves or the female organs (ears) and male organs (tassels) of corn. The initial stages of these structures are called meristems, which consist of versatile, undifferentiated cells analogous to the stem cells found in animals. Jackson and colleagues from UC San Diego, including Andrea Gallavotti who spent one year in Jackson’s lab to perform some of this work, and at California State University at Long Beach and Pennsylvania State University, found that meristems emerge from an interplay between the synthesis of auxin by various cells and its motion between them.

Disrupting either its production (by causing a mutation in the spi1 gene) or its motion results in stunted, defective organs.

Eudicots vs. Monocots

Much has been learned in the past about organ development in the cress plant known as Arabidopsis, which biologists regard as a “model organism” for plant research, much as the lab mouse has served as a model for research on mammalian biology. Arabidopsis is in a plant group called eudicots, however, while maize and many other food crops belong to a group known as monocots. The spi1gene has cousins that affect auxin synthesis and organ formation in Arabidopsis, but there are important differences.

“In maize, spi1 mutations cause severe developmental effects, which is not the case in Arabidopsis, which we demonstrated by deleting, or ‘knocking-out,’ genes similar to spi1,” Jackson explained. “Our work helped demonstrate that spi1 in maize has evolved a dominant role in auxin biosynthesis, and is essential for what we plant scientists call inflorescence development--the process in seed plants in which a shoot forms that supports the plant’s flowers,” he added.

“When we looked at the interaction between spi1and genes of the plant that regulate auxin transport, we found, interestingly, that the transport of auxin and biosynthesis work together in a synergistic manner to regulate how the meristem and lateral organs of the maize plant develop.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gallavotti et al. Sparse inflorescence1 encodes a monocot-specific YUCCA-like gene required for vegetative and reproductive development in maize. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 17, 2008; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805596105

Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Essential Gene For Forming Ears Of Corn Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924124551.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2008, September 25). Essential Gene For Forming Ears Of Corn Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924124551.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Essential Gene For Forming Ears Of Corn Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924124551.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins