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Crop Biotech Update

Mutant Maize Gene Gives Clues on Breeding Better Crops

May 5, 2021
Image Source: Debamalya Chatterjee/PennState

Abnormal production of sugars and starches in the kernels of mutant maize was linked to one gene, giving insights into how maize plants deal with stress. This discovery is reported in Plant Physiology.

The Pennsylvania State University team cloned unstable factor for orange1 (ufo1), a grass gene expressed solely during seed development in maize, to understand its function. The mutant maize plants showed changes in sugars and hormones, as well as defects in the basal endosperm transfer layer and adjacent cell types. The findings show that the gene controls several traits aside from pigmentation.

With the help of ufo1 genes, the stress tolerance of maize crops can be improved, as well as its seed development, which has implications in yield and biomass.

Read more in PennState News and Plant Physiology.

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