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Overexpression of zmm28 increases maize grain yield in the field
Saturday, 2019/11/09 | 05:00:33

Jingrui Wu, Shai J. Lawit, Ben Weers, Jindong Sun, Nick Mongar, John Van Hemert, Rosana Melo, Xin Meng, Mary Rupe, Joshua Clapp, Kristin Haug Collet, Libby Trecker, Keith Roesler, Layton Peddicord, Jill Thomas, Joanne Hunt, Wengang Zhou, Zhenglin Hou, Matthew Wimmer, Justin Jantes, Hua Mo, Lu Liu, Yiwei Wang, Carl Walker, Olga Danilevskaya, Renee H. Lafitte, Jeffrey R. Schussler, Bo Shen, and Jeffrey E. Habben

PNAS first published November 4, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.


In the approaching decades, food security will likely be more of an issue as there will be an increased demand for grain which will need to be met in an environmentally sustainable manner. To date, commercial transgenic maize has primarily targeted resistance to insects and herbicides. Here we describe a transgenic approach to improve the yield and yield stability of maize. We have demonstrated that increasing and extending the expression of a maize gene, zmm28, alters vegetative and reproductive growth parameters and significantly enhances yield in large-scale field trials conducted over multiple years. We conclude that alteration in expression of a native maize gene in maize can create a substantially positive change in a complex trait like grain yield.


Increasing maize grain yield has been a major focus of both plant breeding and genetic engineering to meet the global demand for food, feed, and industrial uses. We report that increasing and extending expression of a maize MADS-box transcription factor gene, zmm28, under the control of a moderate-constitutive maize promoter, results in maize plants with increased plant growth, photosynthesis capacity, and nitrogen utilization. Molecular and biochemical characterization of zmm28 transgenic plants demonstrated that their enhanced agronomic traits are associated with elevated plant carbon assimilation, nitrogen utilization, and plant growth. Overall, these positive attributes are associated with a significant increase in grain yield relative to wild-type controls that is consistent across years, environments, and elite germplasm backgrounds.


See https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/10/29/1902593116


Fig. 1. Protein sequence, phylogenetic analysis, and expression of zmm28. (A) Amino acid sequence of ZMM28. MADS-box, Intervening, K-box, and C-terminal domains are indicated with different colors. (B) Phylogenetic analysis of ZMM28 (Zm00001d022088_P002) with AP1-FUL clade members from Arabidopsis and representative monocots. The clade containing ZMM28 is highlighted in blue. Relative expression of native (solid bar) and transgenic (open bar) zmm28 in (C) control (WT), (D) DP202216, and (E) DP382118 leaf tissue during different vegetative (V) stages collected from the middle section of the youngest fully expanded leaf blade and reproductive (R) stages collected from the middle section of the ear leaf blade. Total (native and transgenic) zmm28 expression is significantly greater in transgenic events than in the WT at all growth stages (n = 5 for V2 to R1, n = 4 for R3 and R5; *P < 0.05, ±SEM).

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