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Interactions of Liguleless1 and Liguleless2 Function during Ligule Induction in Maize

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Abstract

The maize ligule is an adaxial membranous structure on the leaf that develops at the boundary of the sheath and blade. The ligule and the associated auricle are dispensable structures, amenable to genetic manipulation. We present here a genetic analysis of liguleless1 (lg1) and liguleless2 (lg2), the two genes known to be uniquely necessary for ligule and auricle development. We show that both reference mutant alleles, lg1-R and lg2-R, are null alleles. The double mutant phenotype suggests that lg1 and lg2 act in the same pathway. Indeed, the dosage of a functional allele at either gene affects the null phenotype of the other. While lg1 function has previously been shown to be cell-autonomous, here we show that the lg2-R phenotype is cell-nonautonomous, suggesting lg1 and lg2 play different roles in the ligule-auricle induction mechanism. We present a model in which early lg2 function specifies the precise position where ligule and auricle will develop. Later lg2 function interacts with lg1 function (either directly or indirectly) to transmit and receive a make-ligule-make-auricle inductive signal.

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