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A maize CONSTANS-like gene, conz1, exhibits distinct diurnal expression patterns in varied photoperiods


Maize (Zea mays ssp. mays L.) was domesticated from teosinte (Z. mays L. ssp. parviglumis Iltis & Doebley), a plant requiring short day photoperiods to flower. While photoperiod sensitive landraces of maize exist, post-domestication breeding included efforts to grow maize in a broad range of latitudes. Thus, modern maize is often characterized as day-neutral because time to flower is relatively unaffected by photoperiod. We report the first identification of maize constans of Zea mays1 (conz1), a gene with extensive sequence homology to photoperiod genes CONSTANS (CO) in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh.) and Heading date1 (Hd1) in rice (Oryza sativa L.). conz1 maps to a syntenous chromosomal location relative to Hd1. Additionally, conz1 and two maize homologs of another photoperiod gene exhibit diurnal expression patterns notably similar to their Arabidopsis and rice homologs. The expression pattern of conz1 in long days is distinct from that observed in short days, suggesting that maize is able to discern variations in photoperiod and respond with differential expression of conz1. We offer models to reconcile the differential expression of conz1 with respect to the photoperiod insensitivity exhibited by temperate inbreds.

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We thank Ron Phillips (University of Minnesota) and his research group for providing the Oat–Maize Addition lines. Also, we thank the DuPont/Monsanto/Ceres Maize Sequence Information Sharing Program (available at for sequence information used to identify conz1. Our thanks also go to Judd F. Hultquist, K. Dale Noel, Gail L. Waring (Marquette University) and several anonymous reviewers for their critical reading of this manuscript and for their helpful suggestions. This project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number 2004-35301-14495.

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Correspondence to Jane E. Dorweiler.

Additional information

Sequence data from this article can be found in the GenBank ( data library under the following accession numbers: conz1 mRNA: EU098139, EU098140; gigz1A: BK006299; gigz1B: BK006298.

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Miller, T.A., Muslin, E.H. & Dorweiler, J.E. A maize CONSTANS-like gene, conz1, exhibits distinct diurnal expression patterns in varied photoperiods. Planta 227, 1377–1388 (2008).

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  • Circadian
  • Flowering
  • qPCR
  • Teosinte
  • Zea