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Class II Tassel Seed Mutations Provide Evidence For Multiple Types Of Inflorescence Meristems In Maize (Poaceae).

E. Irish
Published 1997 · Medicine, Biology

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The tassel seed mutations ts4 and Ts6 of maize cause irregular branching in its inflorescences, tassels, and ears, in addition to feminization of the tassel due to the failure to abort pistils. A comparison of the development of mutant and wild-type tassels and ears using scanning electron microscopy reveals that at least four reproductive meristem types can be identified in maize: the inflorescence meristem, the spikelet pair meristem, the spikelet meristem, and the floret meristem. ts4 and Ts6 mutations affect the fate of specific reproductive meristems in both tassels and ears. ts4 mutants fail to form spikelet meristems from spikelet pair meristems. Ts6 mutants are delayed in the conversion of certain spikelet meristems into floret meristems. Once floret meristems are established in both of these mutants, they form florets that appear normal but fail to undergo pistil abortion in the tassel. The abnormal branching associated with each mutant is suppressed at the base of ears, permitting the formation of normal, fertile spikelets. The classification of the different types of reproductive meristems will be useful in interpretation of gene expression patterns in maize. It also provides a framework for understanding meristem functions that can be varied to diversify inflorescence architectures in the Gramineae.
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