Crop Yield in Maize Influenced by Unexpected Gene ‘Moonlighting’


Maize is a staple crop that came from humble beginnings.

Maize is a staple crop that came from humble beginnings. If you look at its wild ancestor, teosinte, the plant looks nearly unrecognizable. Human selection has persuaded the maize plant to grow in a way that produces higher yields and can be more efficiently harvested. But scientists and farmers are looking for ways, in the face of climate change, population growth, and other factors, to even further optimize maize yields.

Now, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have identified a relationship between crop yield in the maize plant and specific genetic activity associated with one of the plant’s metabolic pathways. The discovery has implications for plant breeding, potentially opening the door for increasingly resilient, higher-yield maize plants.

Read more at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Image: Representative mature ears of genetically unaltered maize, maize with the tpp4 gene blocked, maize with the ra3 gene blocked and maize with both the ra3 and tpp4 genes blocked. Branching in the ear was observed when researchers blocked vital genes as compared to the normal unaltered maize.

Image Credit: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory