Sex Determination In Maize

Sex determination in maize

Zea mays (maize) is an example for monoecious, which means male and female flowers are present on the same plant. There are two types of inflorescence. The terminal inflorescence which bears staminate florets develops from shoot apical meristem called tassel.

The lateral inflorescence which develop pistillate f lorets from axillary bud is called ear or cob. Unisexuality in maize occurs through the selective abortion of stamens in ear florets and pistils in tassel florets. A substitution of two single gene pairs ‘ba’ for barren plant and ‘ts’ for tassel seed makes the difference between monoecious and dioecious (rare) maize plants. The allele for barren plant (ba) when homozygous makes the stalk staminate by eliminating silk and ears. The allele for tassel seed (ts) transforms tassel into a pistillate structure that produce no pollen. The table-3.7 is the resultant sex expression based on the combination of these alleles. Most of these mutations are shown to be defects in gibberellin biosynthesis. Gibberellins play an important role in the suppression of stamens in florets on the ears.

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