Gibberellins: A Phytohormonal Basis for Heterosis in Maize

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Science  02 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4870, pp. 1216-1218
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4870.1216


Four commercially important maize parental inbreds and their 12 F1 hybrids were studied to investigate the role of the phytohormone gibberellin (GA) in the regulation of heterosis (hybrid vigor). All hybrids grew faster than any inbred. In contrast, all inbreds showed a greater promotion of shoot growth after the exogenous application of GA3. Concentrations of endogenous GA1, the biological effector for shoot growth in maize, and GA19, a precursor of GA1, were measured in apical meristematic shoot cylinders for three of the inbreds and their hybrids by gas chromatography—mass spectrometry with selected ion monitoring; deuterated GAs were used as quantitative internal standards. In 34 of 36 comparisons, hybrids contained higher concentrations of endogenous GAs than their parental inbreds. Preferential growth acceleration of the inbreds by exogenous GA3 indicates that a deficiency of endogenous GA limits the growth of the inbreds and is thus a cause of inbreeding depression. Conversely, the increased endogenous concentration of GA in the hybrids could provide a phytohormonal basis for heterosis for shoot growth.