Albany, California
Plant Gene Expression Center
Regulation of maize inflorescence architecture --Hake, S, Jackson, D, Kellogg, E, Martienssen, R, Rocheford, T, Schmidt, R, Walbot, V, Brendel, V Crops that are considered cereals, like maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, barley, millet, and oats, account for the majority of calories consumed in the world. In addition to the cereal crops, there are approximately 10,000 species of wild grasses, which together cover about 11% of the earth's land surface. Genetic information on the regulation of maize inflorescence architecture should be readily transferable between other species, both cultivated and wild. Development of maize as a model system assumes that information from maize should be applicable to other cereals, and indeed to any other plant. Comparisons between maize and the other cereals, and between maize and wild grasses, will test this basic assumption of model system development. Nearly all grasses are characterized by the spikelet, a short branch that contains floral meristems. The arrangement of these spikelets in different grasses, and the branches on which they are home, reflects differing fates of the meristems produced during inflorescence development. Identifying the genes that determine meristem fates and understanding the mechanism by which these genes integrate their activities would be of immense value for developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and applied genetics and breeding. Genomic-based approaches will be integrated with existing genetic and molecular resources developed in maize. Inflorescence genes will be identified that will serve as tools for three different disciplines: investigation of meristem development, quantitative trait analysis, and comparative biology in the grasses. A combination of sequencing and expression analysis will be used to identify a subset of genes expressed at the earliest stages of development, and also correlating with the proliferation of specific meristem types in selected mutants. The function of these genes will be determined through genetics and mapping. Map positions of the inflorescence genes will provide a link to quantitative traits, and to mutations in maize and other grasses. A subset of these genes will be studied in other cereals and wild grasses. These comparisons will provide a valuable data set for the study of evolution and diversity across 60 million years of grass evolution. Whether these genes have been modified over evolutionary time and whether they function in other grasses the same way as they do in maize will be determined.
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