Handbook of Maize: Its Biology

pp 41-55

The Maize Floral Transition

  • Joseph Colasanti
  • , Michael Muszynski

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The floral transition is a critical developmental change in a plant's life cycle that is marked by the switch from vegetative to reproductive growth. The transition is induced by leaf-derived signals that translocate through the phloem to the shoot apex where the shoot apical meristem is reprogrammed to adopt a floral fate. In maize, this occurs when the vegetative shoot meristem ceases leaf initiation and becomes consumed in the production of the tassel inflorescence primordium. Upper axillary shoot meristems are converted into ear inflorescence primordia soon after this period. This review highlights current understanding of the genes and molecular mechanisms regulating the floral transition in maize. We relate flowering control in maize to its progenitor teosinte, provide an overview of the quantitative nature of flowering in maize germplasm and describe what is currently known about the molecular components of the maize floral transition genetic network.