Plant Reproduction

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 19–29 | Cite as

Genetic and cellular analysis of cross-incompatibility in Zea mays

  • Yongxian Lu
  • Jerry L. Kermicle
  • Matthew M. S. EvansEmail author
Original Article


Three genetic systems conferring cross-incompatibility have been described in Zea mays: Teosinte crossing barrier1-strong (Tcb1-s) found in teosinte, and Gametophyte factor1-strong (Ga1-s) and Ga2-s found in maize and teosinte. The reproductive barrier between maize and some weedy teosintes is controlled by the Tcb1-s locus. Multi-generation inheritance experiments on two independent Tcb1-s lineages show that the Tcb1-s barrier is unstable in some maize lines. Reciprocal crosses between Tcb1-s tester plants and three recombinants in the Tcb1-s mapping region demonstrate that the Tcb1-s haplotype contains separable male and female components. In vivo assays of the dynamics of pollen tube growth and pollen tube morphology during rejection of incompatible pollen in silks carrying the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, or Ga2-s barriers showed that, in all three, pollen tube growth is slower than in compatible crosses at early stages and had ceased by 24 h after pollination. In all three crossing barrier systems, incompatible pollen tubes have clustered callose plugs in contrast to pollen tubes of compatible crosses. Incompatible pollen tubes growing in the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, and Ga2-s silks have different morphologies: straight, curved, and kinked, respectively. The distinct morphologies suggest that these crossing barriers block incompatible pollen through different mechanisms. This study lays the foundation for cloning the Tcb1 genes and provides clues about the cellular mechanisms involved in pollen rejection in the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, and Ga2-s crossing barriers.


Unilateral cross-incompatibility Pollen tube growth Zea mays Maize Teosinte Reproductive isolation 



This research was supported by National Science Foundation Award number IOS-0951259 and by United States Department of Agriculture-National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program Award number 35301-13314.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 3582 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongxian Lu
    • 1
  • Jerry L. Kermicle
    • 2
  • Matthew M. S. Evans
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institute for ScienceStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of GeneticsUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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