A new dominant yellow silk (Ys) gene for sweet corn improvement

--Walton C. Galinat

Since Don Taylor came out with the idea in the early 1940's that dark inner silks in milk stage sweet corn looked like contamination with horse hairs, there has been a constant effort by sweet corn breeders to keep the inner silk color either white or yellow. The result is almost all of today's sweet corn has either yellow or white silks in the milk stage, and inner silk color is more important and can differ from outer silk color. In contrast, dent corn and flour corn usually have dark silk color so that sweet corn breeders who outcross to these non-sweet corns for yield, kernel and ear factors, must in addition to selection to recover either su or sh2, select for white silks and other immature quality factors such as tenderness, sweetness, and flavor. The white silks are inherited as a recessive, usually due to r in su sweet corn and, due to linkage, a in sh2 super sweets. This means that recessive white silks must be transferred to both parents for expression in the F1 hybrid.

This is not the case with the dominant Ys gene. It need be present in only one parent of the hybrid. It is a paradox that it is linked to su just as a white silk is linked to sh2. The Ys (yellow silk) gene came to me with some EMS mutants supplied by Jerry Neuffer.


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