Interaction between mutations that influence inflorescence development

--Bruce Veit and Sarah Hake

We have begun to analyze the extent to which different mutations affecting inflorescence development interact with each other. We hope that knowledge of such interactions will suggest functional relationships between the gene products defined by these mutations.

Initial experiments indicate that the tassel morphology conditioned by ts2 is modified by Mpl or ts4. ts2 typically produces a normally branched tassel that bears only pistillate florets while Mpl conditions both dwarf and anther-ear phenotypes. In the Mpl ts2 double mutant, both the dwarf and anther-ear phenotypes persist. Interestingly, the pistillate florets conditioned by ts2 become perfect when Mpl is also present. Thus, in its response to Mpl, the terminal pistillate inflorescence produced by ts2 behaves much like its normal axillary counterpart, the ear. ts4 conditions the development of a highly branched tassel with the sporadic development of pistillate florets. In ts2 ts4 double mutants, a highly branched, completely pistillate tassel develops.

With both the ts2 Mpl and ts2 ts4 double mutants, the mutant phenotypes can be explained as simple superimpositions of the transformations associated with each of the single mutants (i.e., the elaboration of a given mutant phenotype is not precluded by the presence of a second mutation). It would seem that these mutations affect developmental processes that are relatively distinct from each other.

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