The indeterminate floral apex1 gene regulates meristem determinacy and identity in the maize inflorescence

Debbie Laudencia-Chingcuanco, Sarah Hake
Development 2002, 129 (11): 2629-38
Meristems may be determinate or indeterminate. In maize, the indeterminate inflorescence meristem produces three types of determinate meristems: spikelet pair, spikelet and floral meristems. These meristems are defined by their position and their products. We have discovered a gene in maize, indeterminate floral apex1 (ifa1) that regulates meristem determinacy. The defect found in ifa1 mutants is specific to meristems and does not affect lateral organs. In ifa1 mutants, the determinate meristems become less determinate. The spikelet pair meristem initiates more than a pair of spikelets and the spikelet meristem initiates more than the normal two flowers. The floral meristem initiates all organs correctly, but the ovule primordium, the terminal product of the floral meristem, enlarges and proliferates, expressing both meristem and ovule marker genes. A role for ifa1 in meristem identity in addition to meristem determinacy was revealed by double mutant analysis. In zea agamous1 (zag1) ifa1 double mutants, the female floral meristem converts to a branch meristem whereas the male floral meristem converts to a spikelet meristem. In indeterminate spikelet1 (ids1) ifa1 double mutants, female spikelet meristems convert to branch meristems and male spikelet meristems convert to spikelet pair meristems. The double mutant phenotypes suggest that the specification of meristems in the maize inflorescence involves distinct steps in an integrated process.

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