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Genetics. 1995 Sep;141(1):333-46.

teosinte branched1 and the origin of maize: evidence for epistasis and the evolution of dominance.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


Two quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling differences in plant and inflorescence architecture between maize and its progenitor (teosinte) were analyzed. Complementation tests indicate that one of these, which is on chromosome arm 1L, is the locus for the maize mutant teosinte branched1 (tb1). This QTL has effects on inflorescence sex and the number and length of internodes in the lateral branches and inflorescences. This QTL has strong phenotypic effects in teosinte background but reduced effects in maize background. The second QTL, which is on chromosome arm 3L, affects the same traits as the QTL on 1L. We identify two candidate loci for this QTL. The effects of this QTL on several traits are reduced in both maize and teosinte background as compared to a maize-teosinte F2 population. Genetic background appears to affect gene action for both QTL. Analysis of a population in which both QTL were segregating revealed that they interact epistatically. Together, these two QTL substantially transform both plant and inflorescence architecture. We propose that tb1 is involved in the plant's response to local environment to produce either long or short branches and that maize evolution involved a change at this locus to produce short branches under all environments.

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