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Plant Cell. 2017 Jul;29(7):1622-1641. doi: 10.1105/tpc.16.00477. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

Maize YABBY Genes drooping leaf1 and drooping leaf2 Regulate Plant Architecture.

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Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
Interdepartmental Plant Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011.
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602.
Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011.
U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service, Ithaca, New York 14853.
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


Leaf architecture directly influences canopy structure, consequentially affecting yield. We discovered a maize (Zea mays) mutant with aberrant leaf architecture, which we named drooping leaf1 (drl1). Pleiotropic mutations in drl1 affect leaf length and width, leaf angle, and internode length and diameter. These phenotypes are enhanced by natural variation at the drl2 enhancer locus, including reduced expression of the drl2-Mo17 allele in the Mo17 inbred. A second drl2 allele, produced by transposon mutagenesis, interacted synergistically with drl1 mutants and reduced drl2 transcript levels. The drl genes are required for proper leaf patterning, development and cell proliferation of leaf support tissues, and for restricting auricle expansion at the midrib. The paralogous loci encode maize CRABS CLAW co-orthologs in the YABBY family of transcriptional regulators. The drl genes are coexpressed in incipient and emergent leaf primordia at the shoot apex, but not in the vegetative meristem or stem. Genome-wide association studies using maize NAM-RIL (nested association mapping-recombinant inbred line) populations indicated that the drl loci reside within quantitative trait locus regions for leaf angle, leaf width, and internode length and identified rare single nucleotide polymorphisms with large phenotypic effects for the latter two traits. This study demonstrates that drl genes control the development of key agronomic traits in maize.

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