Chin Bull Bot ›› 2019, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (5): 554-557.doi: 10.11983/CBB19119

• COMMENTARIES • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A Teosinte Rare Allele Increases Maize Plant Density and Yield

Liu Jie,Yan Jianbing()   

  1. National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Received:2019-07-08 Accepted:2019-07-16 Online:2019-03-01 Published:2019-09-01
  • Contact: Yan Jianbing


Increasing plant density is an important approach to boost crop yield, and leaf angle is one of the key factors affecting plant density. Recently, Feng Tian’s lab from China Agricultural University cloned and characterized two major QTLs (UPA1 and UPA2) regulating leaf angle in maize. The underlying genes are brd1 and ZmRAVL1, respectively, and both of them are involved in the brassinosteroid (BR) pathway to regulate leaf angle. UPA2 is located 9.5 kb upstream of ZmRAVL1 and is bound by DRL1. LG1, another leaf angle protein, directly activates the expression of ZmRAVL1. DRL1 and LG1 physically interact and the resulting complex in turn represses the LG1-activated expression of ZmRAVL1. The teosinte allele of UPA2 has a higher binding affinity with DRL1, resulting in the reduced ZmRAVL1 expression, which consequently down-regulates the brd1 expression and leads to the decreased brassinosteroid level, thereby reducing the leaf angle. The introgression of UPA2 teosinte allele into maize and the manipulation of ZmRAVL1 significantly increase maize yield with increased plant density. These findings have paved a new avenue for molecular breeding of high-yield maize varieties.

Key words: maize, plant density, yield, UPA1, UPA2

Figure 1

A proposed pathway regulating the leaf angle in maize lg2 regulates lg1 with an unknown mechanism. LG1 and DRL1 activates and represses the expression of ZmRAVL1, respectively. The DRL1-LG1 complex represses the LG1- activated ZmRAVL1 expression (DRL2 may have a similar function as DRL1). ZmRAVL1 regulates the expression of brd1, which, together with nana plant2 (na2), are involved in the biosynthesis of brassinosteroid (BR) and eventually regulate leaf angle. Solid and dash lines indicate the clear and unclear regulatory mechanism, respectively."

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