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Free Content Senescence-induced expression of cytokinin reverses pistil abortion during maize flower development

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Maize is a monoecious species that produces imperfect (unisexual), highly derived flowers called florets. Within the spikelet, the basic repeating unit of the maize inflorescence, the spikelet meristem gives rise to an upper and a lower floret. Although initially bisexual, floret unisexuality is established through selective organ elimination. In addition, the lower floret of each ear spikelet is aborted early in its development, leaving the upper floret to mature as the only pistillate floret. Expression from the cytokinin-synthesizing isopentenyl transferase (IPT) enzyme under the control of the Arabidopsis senescence-inducible promoter SAG (senescence associated gene)12 was observed during early maize floret development. Moreover, the lower floret was rescued from abortion, resulting in two functional florets per spikelet. The pistil in each floret was fertile, but the spikelet produced just one kernel composed of a fused endosperm with two viable embryos. The two embryos were genetically distinct, indicating that they had arisen from independent fertilization events. These results suggest that cytokinin can determine pistil cell fate during maize floret development.
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Keywords: cytokinin; embryo development; kernel; maize; pistil development; programmed cell death

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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