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Characterization of the Two Maize Embryo-Lethal Defective Kernel Mutants Rgh*-1210 and Fl*-1253b: Effects on Embryo and Gametophyte Development

The Genetics Society of America
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We have examined the effects on embryonic and gametophytic development of two nonallelic defective-kernel mutants of maize. Earlier studies indicated that both mutants are abnormal in embryonic morphogenesis as well as in the formation of their endosperm. Mutant rgh*-1210 embryos depart from the normal embryogenic pathway at the proembryo and transition stage, by developing meristematic lobes and losing bilateral symmetry. They continue growth as irregular cell masses that enlarge and become necrotic. Somatic embryos arising in rgh*-1210 callus cultures display the rgh*-1210 mutant phenotype. Mutant fl*-1253B embryos are variably blocked from the coleoptilar stage through stage 2. Following formation of the shoot apex in the mutant embryos the leaf primordia and tissues surrounding the embryonic axis continue growth and cell division, while the scutellum ceases development and becomes hypertrophied. Mutant fl*-1253B embryos are unable to germinate, either in mutant kernels or as immature embryos in culture, and the mutant scutellar tissue does not produce regenerable callus. Expression of the fl*-1253B locus during male gametophytic development is revealed by a marked reduction in pollen transmission as a result of mutant expression during the interval between meiosis and the initiation of pollen tube growth. In both mutants, there is considerable proliferation of the aleurone cells of the endosperm. Mutant expression of rgh*-1210 in the female gametophyte is revealed by the abnormal antipodal cells of the embryo sac. These results show that these two gene loci play unique and crucial roles in normal morphogenesis of the embryo. In addition, it is evident that both mutants are pleiotropic in affecting the development of the endosperm and gametophyte as well as the embryo. These pleiotropisms suggest some commonality in the gene regulation of development in these three tissues.

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