Mutator-tagging of developmental and physiological traits --Brad Hedges and Patrick S. Schnable Two approaches were taken to tagging genes affecting developmental and physiological pathways with Mu elements. Both approaches involved screening selfed families for the appearance of novel mutations. The selfed families used in the first approach were derived from plants carrying an active Mutator system and were a gift from Philip Stinard and Donald Robertson. The selfed families used in the second approach were derived from germinal revertants from the bz-rcy824333y state. In both approaches 15 to 30 kernels from each selfed family were field grown to maturity. All individuals within each family were screened for visible mutations several times during the growing season.

A large and diverse collection of putative mutations was obtained. As would be expected the most frequent aberrant phenotypic class consisted of small, weak plants. However, the collection also includes phosphorus and nitrogen deficiency mimics, disease mimics or susceptibilities, male and/or female steriles, and alterations in tassel morphology and placement (e.g., the inclusion of pistillate flowers, reduced and absent tassels); ear placement, number and morphology (e.g., the inclusion of staminate flowers, club or fasciated ears, silky and reduced ears); tiller number; leaf morphology and placement; and gross plant morphology (e.g., dwarfs and brachytics). Approximately 150 of these are being tested for heritability. Some are included in a crossing/selection program to reduce Mu element copy number.

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