Maize is unique among cereal grasses because of its monoecious flowering habit. Male flowers are normally restricted to the tassel that terminates the primary shoot, whereas female flowers occur as ears at the terminal nodes of lateral branches. We observed Ki14, a tropical maize inbred that produces an ear tipped by a staminate (male) spike under certain environmental conditions, such as long daylengths. Recombinant inbred lines derived from the cross between temperate line B97, which was never observed to produce a staminate ear tip, and Ki14 segregated for the trait under long daylengths. Some progeny lines that had even longer staminate tips than Ki14 were male fertile. We mapped three QTL controlling staminate ear tip using a two-part (binomial plus normal) model. A major QTL on chromosome 3 had a large effect on penetrance of the trait (whether a line would produce staminate ear tips or not) as well as its severity (the length of the staminate tip). This QTL seems to be linked to, but at a distinct position from, a previously mapped QTL controlling the proportion of staminate florets in ears in progeny from crosses between maize and teosinte. Two additional QTL affecting staminate ear tip severity overlapped with QTL controlling photoperiod response previously mapped in this population. Alleles conferring photoperiod sensitivity for delayed flowering at these QTL seem to enhance the production of staminate ear tips under long daylengths.
- Received July 28, 2011.
- Accepted August 12, 2011.
- Copyright © 2011 Holland, Coles