The Patterns of Plant Structures in Maize
The most spectacular transformations of morphogenesis in maize occur at phase change when the vegetative phenotypes suddenly switch into floral ones. Less dramatic changes develop as secondary sex traits when the male or tassel and female or ear phenotypes diverge from a common primordial type of inflorescence. The differences between the juvenile and adult vegetative stages are even less striking in appearance but they also depend on some system of molecular switching. Recognition of the vegetative-floral homologies is essential to understanding how a framework of differential genetic activities regulates and synchronizes repetitious and reversible patterns of growth that result in structures of incredible beauty that delicately adapt to carry out the functions of intercepting solar radiation in the vegetative phase and the functions of sexual reproduction in the floral phase—all within a certain external environment. Once the structures of the inflorescenses are completed, the controlling genes must reverse epimutate at, or soon after, sexual reproduction so that the developmental clock can be reset for the cycle of the next generation.
KeywordsVegetative Phase Modern Maize Tassel Branch Leaf Rudiment Central Spike
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