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Genetics. Jul 2004; 167(3): 1395–1405.
PMCID: PMC1470959

Structure and expression of maize phytochrome family homeologs.


To begin the study of phytochrome signaling in maize, we have cloned and characterized the phytochrome gene family from the inbred B73. Through DNA gel blot analysis of maize genomic DNA and BAC library screens, we show that the PhyA, PhyB, and PhyC genes are each duplicated once in the genome of maize. Each gene pair was positioned to homeologous regions of the genome using recombinant inbred mapping populations. These results strongly suggest that the duplication of the phytochrome gene family in maize arose as a consequence of an ancient tetraploidization in the maize ancestral lineage. Furthermore, sequencing of Phy genes directly from BAC clones indicates that there are six functional phytochrome genes in maize. Through Northern gel blot analysis and a semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay, we determined that all six phytochrome genes are transcribed in several seedling tissues. However, expression from PhyA1, PhyB1, and PhyC1 predominate in all seedling tissues examined. Dark-grown seedlings express higher levels of PhyA and PhyB than do light-grown plants but PhyC genes are expressed at similar levels under light and dark growth conditions. These results are discussed in relation to phytochrome gene regulation in model eudicots and monocots and in light of current genome sequencing efforts in maize.

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