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The evolution of food plants: Genetic control of grass flower architecture

e, "we think that ra2 is critical for shaping the initial steps of inflorescence architecture in the grass family, because the ra2 expression pattern is conserved in other grasses including rice, barley, and sorghum".

Perspective: Branching Out: The ramosa Pathway and the Evolution of Grass Inflorescence Morphology

In an accompanying Current Perspective Essay, Paula McSteen of The Pennsylvania State University discusses the ramosa pathway in the context of the evolution of plant development.

"The grasses are a premier model system for evolution of development studies in higher plants: there is tremendous diversity in inflorescence morphology, the phylogeny is well understood and many species are genetically transformable so hypotheses can be tested. Maize in particular is an excellent model system for studying selection as it was domesticated from its wild ancestor teosinte a mere 10,000 years ago. Because transcription factors control many developmental processes, it is common to find that diversification of morphology between closely related organisms has involved changes in how transcription factors are regulated or how transcription factors interact with their target genes. An understanding of the ramosa pathway in the grass family will be important in understanding the evolution of the grasses and furthermore will provide an understanding of the mechanisms of evolution of development."

Dr. McSteen commented "because ra2 has increased branching it might have the potential to lead to increased seed number and yield in some cereal grasses. This might not be true for maize because of the structure of the ear, but one can imagine that a ra2 mutant of barley, rice or sorghum might have more branches, and thus produce more seed".


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Source:American Society of Plant Biologists


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