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Inflorescence Development In A High-altitude Annual Mexican Teosinte (Poaceae).

A. Orr, K. Mullen, D. Klaahsen, M. D. Sundberg
Published 2002 · Medicine, Biology

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Some have postulated that highland Mexican maize was derived from an ancient high-altitude teosinte and that later introgression between the two taxa occurred. We used scanning electron microscopy to examine the inflorescence development in both the tassel and ear of a high-altitude Toluca teosinte. One of the most interesting observations was the presence of atypical multiranked orthostiches in the central spike of some male Toluca teosinte inflorescences. Most tassels exhibited a central spike with a pure, four-ranked, tetrastichous phyllotaxy or an intermediate (distichous/tetrastichous) phyllotaxy. A few A(1) tassels had a more typical distichous (two-ranked) central spike. Most ears showed the two-rank condition expected for teosintes. However, three ears displayed an intermediate (distichous/tristichous or distichous/ tetrastichous) phyllotaxy and one ear was tetrastichous. Our analysis of spikelet and floret development in all Toluca inflorescences revealed a pattern similar to that in landrace and U.S. maize, as well as to their close relatives, the teosintes. We suggest that this investigation may reveal inflorescence development in a natural maize-teosinte hybrid. This study further supports our hypothesis that both maleness and femaleness in the Zea inflorescences are derived from a common developmental pathway and underpins a proposal that andropogonoid grasses share a common pattern of inflorescence development.
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