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Heterochronic Mutations Affecting Shoot Development in Maize

The Genetics Society of America
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  • Investigations


Three semidominant, nonallelic mutations of maize, Teopod 1 (Tp1), Teopod 2 (Tp2) and Teopod 3 (Tp3), have a profound effect on both vegetative and reproductive development. Although each mutation is phenotypically distinct, they all (1) increase the number of vegetative phytomers; (2) increase the number of phytomers producing ears, tillers and prop roots; (3) increase the number of leaves bearing epidermal wax; (4) decrease the size of leaves and internodes; (5) decrease the size of both the ear and tassel; and (6) transform reproductive structures into vegetative ones. The analysis presented here suggests that this phenotype reflects the prolonged expression of a juvenile, vegetative developmental program which overlaps with the reproductive developmental program. The expression of these mutations is different in each of the four inbred backgrounds used in this study. Tp1 and Tp2 have similar phenotypes and are more highly expressed in the A632 and Oh51a inbred backgrounds than in W23 and Mo17. Tp3 has less extreme effects than either of these mutations and has the opposite modification pattern; i.e., it is more highly expressed in W23 and Mo17 than in A632 and Oh51a. The expression of Tp1 and Tp2 in the presence of varying doses of their wild-type alleles indicate that both are gain-of-function mutations. The phenotypes of Tp1 and Tp2 and the nature of their response to variation in gene dose suggest that they control related, but nonidentical functions. The developmental and evolutionary implications of the heterochronic phenotype of these mutations is discussed.

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