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Gallavotti, A, Yang Y, Schmidt RJ, Jackson D.  2008.  The Relationship Between Auxin Transport and Maize Branching. Plant Physiol. 147:1913-1923. Abstract
Maize (Zea mays) plants make different types of vegetative or reproductive branches during development. Branches develop from axillary meristems produced on the flanks of the vegetative or inflorescence shoot apical meristem. Among these branches are the spikelets, short grass-specific structures, produced by determinate axillary spikelet-pair and spikelet meristems. We investigated the mechanism of branching in maize by making transgenic plants expressing a native expressed endogenous auxin efflux transporter (ZmPIN1a) fused to yellow fluorescent protein and a synthetic auxin-responsive promoter (DR5rev) driving red fluorescent protein. By imaging these plants, we found that all maize branching events during vegetative and reproductive development appear to be regulated by the creation of auxin response maxima through the activity of polar auxin transporters. We also found that the auxin transporter ZmPIN1a is functional, as it can rescue the polar auxin transport defects of the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) pin1-3 mutant. Based on this and on the groundbreaking analysis in Arabidopsis and other species, we conclude that branching mechanisms are conserved and can, in addition, explain the formation of axillary meristems (spikelet-pair and spikelet meristems) that are unique to grasses. We also found that BARREN STALK1 is required for the creation of auxin response maxima at the flanks of the inflorescence meristem, suggesting a role in the initiation of polar auxin transport for axillary meristem formation. Based on our results, we propose a general model for branching during maize inflorescence development.
Gallavotti, A.  2013.  The role of auxin in shaping shoot architecture. Journal of Experimental Botany. 64(9):2593-2608. AbstractWebsite
The variety of plant architectures observed in nature is predominantly determined by vegetative and reproductive branching patterns, the positioning of lateral organs, and differential stem elongation. Branches, lateral organs, and stems are the final products of the activity of meristems, groups of stem cells whose function is genetically deter- mined and environmentally influenced. Several decades of studies in different plant species have shed light on the essential role of the hormone auxin in plant growth and development. Auxin influences stem elongation and regulates the formation, activity, and fate of meristems, and has therefore been recognized as a major hormone shaping plant architecture. Increasing our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that regulate auxin function is necessary to understand how different plant species integrate a genetically determined developmental programme, the establish- ment of a body plan, with constant inputs from the surrounding environment. This information will allow us to develop the molecular tools needed to modify plant architecture in several crop species and in rapidly changing environments.
Gallavotti, A, Zhao Q, Kyozuka J, Meeley RB, Ritter MK, Doebley JF, Pè EM, Schmidt RJ.  2004.  The role of Barren Stalk1 in the Architecture of Maize. Nature. 432:630-635. Abstract
The architecture of higher plants is established through the activity of lateral meristems–small groups of stem cells formed during vegetative and reproductive development. Lateral meristems generate branches and inflorescence structures, which define the overall form of a plant, and are largely responsible for the evolution of different plant architectures. Here, we report the isolation of the barren stalk1 gene, which encodes a non-canonical basic helix-loop-helix protein required for the initiation of all aerial lateral meristems in maize. barren stalk1 represents one of the earliest genes involved in the patterning of maize inflorescences, and, together with the teosinte branched1 gene, it regulates vegetative lateral meristem development. The architecture of maize has been a major target of selection for early agriculturalists and modern farmers, because it influences harvesting, breeding strategies and mechanization. By sampling nucleotide diversity in the barren stalk1 region, we show that two haplotypes entered the maize gene pool from its wild progenitor, teosinte, and that only one was incorporated throughout modern inbreds, suggesting that barren stalk1 was selected for agronomic purposes.