Discovery of Ac Activity Among Progeny of Tissue Culture-Derived Maize Plants

  • R. L. Phillips
  • V. M. Peschke
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 47)


A high frequency of structurally altered chromosomes in maize plants regenerated from tissue culture led us to predict that newly activated transposable elements could be detected in regenerated plants. Test-crosses of 1,200 progeny from 301 regenerated maize plants resulted in 56 positive tests for the Activator (Ac) transposable element. Further testing of these progenies confirmed that ten regenerated plants from two independent embryo cell lines contained an active Ac element; indications that an eleventh regenerated plant from a third cell line may contain Ac have not yet been confirmed. Thus, Ac activity was observed in 2 to 3% of the embryo cell lines and regenerated plants tested. Ac activity has not been found in plants from noncultured control kernels, and only 30% of the plants regenerated from the positive cell lines had Ac activity, demonstrating that no active Ac elements were present in the explant sources. Nine regenerated plants derived from a single embryo cell line had Ac activity; this indicates that activation occurred during tissue culture rather than during plant regeneration. DNA analysis of the Ac-containing plants and noncultured control plants is now in progress.

Other researchers at this university are currently investigating possible mechanisms for the chromosomal aberrations observed in tissue culture-derived plants; these breakage events may be responsible for the activation of transposable elements in tissue culture. Recovery of transposable element activity in regenerated plants indicates that some tissue culture-derived genetic variability may be the result of insertion and/or excision of transposable elements.


Transposable Element Maize Plant Chromosome Breakage Breakage Event Active Transposable Element 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Phillips
    • 1
  • V. M. Peschke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, and Plant Molecular Genetics InstituteUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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