Articles

The sex determination process in maize

Science  02 Dec 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5190, pp. 1501-1505
DOI: 10.1126/science.7985019

Abstract

Maize partitions the sexes into different flowers on the plant, a condition called monoecy, which facilitates outcrossing. Sex determination in maize is a complex process involving an interplay between genetic determinants, the environment, and hormones. Unisexuality of flowers is achieved by the process of selective arrest and abortion of the inappropriate organ primordia within a bisexual floral meristem. Floral organ abortion is associated with the degeneration of cells within an immature primordia. Masculinizing genes are required for gynoecial abortion, feminizing genes arrest stamen development, and both types also control secondary sexual traits involving morphological characteristics of floral tissues. Gibberellins, steroid-like plant hormones, appear to play a pivotal role in the stamen abortion process and the feminization of floral tissues.

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