Brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association and the Maize Genetics and Genomics Database
One thing we have learned from the National Corn Yield Contest is that plant populations are increasing. But as plant populations increase, how do we keep plants from crowding or shading each other? The answer is to change the plant’s architecture, specifically the angle of the leaves.
The liguleless1 gene in corn controls leaf angle by allowing the development of a small collar near the base of the leaf which allows the leaf to bend without breaking. When the liguleless1 gene is mutated, the collar is absent and leaves assume a more upright angle that allows plants to grow closer together without crowding or shading each other. Many modern hybrids carry the mutated liguleless1 gene.
The liguleless1 mutant is on the left.
Photo courtesy of Dr. M. G. Neuffer, University of Missouri.