University of Massachusetts

Anther size vs. glume size, a delicate balance --Walton C. Galinat The cooperative action of genes toward achieving success in a common objective is no better illustrated than the association between independent genes for anther and glume size in the male flowers. An increase or decrease in one component must be followed by a corresponding change in the other or functional male sterility will result. When the glumes are too big for their anthers, the anthers may not emerge to disperse their pollen. If the glumes are too short, the anthers are prematurely exposed with lethal sun-burning the consequence.

Both the anthers and glumes of the annual teosintes of Mexico are smaller than those in corn except for vestigial glume (Vg) corn. One of the viability problems of Vg corn is that the immature anthers are exposed to sun-burning and blasting. Why, then, not transfer the small anthers of teosinte into Vg corn? We have been attempting to do this for about five years, generally with unsuccessful results except for one lineage. In most cases the small anthers of teosinte appear linked to small glumes that have an additive effect with the Vg gene, producing an inviable combination. Apparently with the exceptional case, the small anthers and small glumes of teosinte have been separated by crossing over. Some promising isolates have been made that should lead to improved fully male-fertile lines that are homozygous Vg.

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