COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. agricultural geneticists say they've identified a gene that's essential in controlling development of maize, a plant known in the United States as corn.
Led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor David Jackson, the research extends the biological understanding of how the different parts of maize arise. That, said Jackson, is important information for a plant that is the most widely planted crop in the United States and a mainstay of the global food supply.
The researchers said they found a gene called sparse inflorescence1, or spi1, is involved in the maize plant's synthesis of the growth hormone auxin, which helps shape structures such as leaves or the female organs (ears) and male organs (tassels) of corn.
The research -- conducted at the University of California-San Diego, California State University and Pennsylvania State University -- appeared in the Sept. 17 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study that also included Andrea Gallavotti, Solmaz Barazesh, Simon Malcomber, Darren Hall, Robert Schmidt and Paula McSteen is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0805596105.