Mutations leading to nuclear restoration of fertility in S male-sterile cytoplasm in maize
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Among the offspring of crosses involving S male-sterile shrunken-2 inbred lines and their corresponding isogenic maintainer lines a number of exceptional male-fertile plants were identified. Some of these were plants with entirely fertile tassels but most were chimeras involving both sterile and fertile tassel elements. The majority of male-fertile exceptional plants, upon crossing with male-sterile testers, produced male-sterile test-cross progeny, indicating that the male-fertile trait is not pollen transmissible. However, there were four separate instances, involving three of the inbred lines, in which the crosses with S male-sterile testers produced male-fertile progeny, indicating that the newly arisen male-fertile trait is pollen transmissible. In three of these cases, the male fertility can be traced to a single plant in essentially male-sterile families. The fourth evidently involved a change in a maintainer plant whose progeny thereafter segregated for the ability to restore S sterile cytoplasm. In all cases, the results of progeny tests are consistent with the gametophytic pattern of restoration associated with S male-sterile cytoplasm.
The male-fertile exceptions described here can be accounted for formally as mutations at one or more restorer gene loci in the nucleus. Taking account of the fact that mutations of restorer genes have not been reported previously in maize, and that four such changes were encountered in the same strains in which we have identified other male-fertile exceptions involving change in the cytoplasm, we have suggested a common basis for the two kinds of events. According to this scheme, given the first appearance, by whatever process, of the male-fertile element in sterile cytoplasm, it may become established and continue to propagate either in the cytoplasm or in the nucleus. In the former case, the change registers as cytoplasmic and the new strain has the characteristics of a maintainer which transmits the male-fertile trait through the egg, but not the sperm; in the latter case, the change occurs in the nucleus and the new strain, now behaving as a restorer, transmits male fertility through both egg and sperm.
KeywordsMaize Inbred Line Gene Locus Single Plant Male Fertility
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