Odd midget corn plant provides insight into how corn makes hormones

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 22:30 in Biology & Nature

It's a corn plant only a geneticist could love. Its ears -- if it makes them at all -- resemble small, chubby, lime-green caterpillars, not exactly something you want to dig your teeth into. To top it off, the corn plant stands only about three feet tall, at full maturity, and has few leaves. By using a positional cloning technique and molecular markers, scientists were able to pinpoint the absent gene in this plant, which they named vanishing tassel2 or vt2. The gene encodes an enzyme, called tryptophan aminotransferase, important for making auxin, an important growth hormone in plants.

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