Faculty Publications

Title

Inflorescence development in a new teosinte: Zea nicaraguensis (Poaceae)

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Development, Evolution, Inflorescence, Maize, Organogenesis, Poaceae, Teosinte, Zea

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Journal of Botany

Volume

91

Issue

2

First Page

165

Last Page

173

Abstract

Inflorescence development in a newly discovered teosinte, Zea nicaraguensis (Poaceae), from Nicaragua has been investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The SEM examination revealed that the pattern of both male and female inflorescence development was similar to previously described inflorescence in other Zea taxa. Branch primordia were initiated acropetally in a distichous pattern along the rachis of male and female inflorescences. Spikelet pair primordia bifurcated into pedicellate and sessile spikelet primordia. Predictably, pedicellate spikelet development was arrested and aborted in the female teosinte inflorescence. Organogenesis of functional spikelets and florets was similar to that previously described in maize and teosintes. The results were consistent with our hypothesis that both femininity and masculinity share a common mechanism of inflorescence development in Zea and Tripsacum and are in accord with a putative common mechanism of sex determination in the Andropogoneae. Interestingly, this population of teosinte, unique in its ability to grow in water-logged soils, showed a stable pattern of early inflorescence development. Our results also revealed the uncharacteristic presence of inflorescence polystichy in this population of Zea nicaraguensis. We propose this novel phenotypic variation raises the possibility that a domestic evolution of polystichy in maize was enabled by an occasional polystichous phenotypic in teosinte.

Original Publication Date

1-1-2004

DOI of published version

10.3732/ajb.91.2.165

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