The Genetics, Pathology, and Molecular Biology of T-Cytoplasm Male Sterility in Maize

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Wise, Roger
Bronson, Charlotte
Schnable, Patrick
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Horner, Harry
University Professor Emeritus
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Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Department of Entomology officially merged as of September 1, 2022. The new department is known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology (PPEM). The overall mission of the Department is to benefit society through research, teaching, and extension activities that improve pest management and prevent disease. Collectively, the Department consists of about 100 faculty, staff, and students who are engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities that are central to the mission of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department possesses state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities in the Advanced Research and Teaching Building and in Science II. In addition, research and extension activities are performed off-campus at the Field Extension Education Laboratory, the Horticulture Station, the Agriculture Engineering/Agronomy Farm, and several Research and Demonstration Farms located around the state. Furthermore, the Department houses the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Insect Zoo, and BugGuide. Several USDA-ARS scientists are also affiliated with the Department.
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The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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The Botany Graduate Program offers work for the degrees Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy with a graduate major in Botany, and minor work for students majoring in other departments or graduate programs. Within the Botany Graduate Major, one of the following areas of specialization may be designated: aquatic and wetland ecology, cytology, ecology, morphology, mycology, physiology and molecular biology, or systematics and evolution. Relevant graduate courses that may be counted toward completion of these degrees are offered by the Departments of EEOB and GDCB, and by other departments and programs. The specific requirements for each student’s course distribution and research activities are set by the Program of Study Committee established for each student individually, and must satisfy all requirements of the Graduate College (See Index). GRE (and if necessary, TOEFL) scores are required of all applicants; students are encouraged to contact faculty prior to application.
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This chapter reviews the genetics, pathology, and molecular biology of T-cytoplasm male sterility in maize. The chapter discusses the role of cytoplasmic male sterility systems in facilitating the production of hybrid seeds. The effects of widespread planting of T-cytoplasm maize on the severe 1970 epidemic and effect of a mitochondria1 gene on disease susceptibility and male sterility are discussed. It also discusses the involvement of nuclear cytoplasmic interactions in restoration of cms-T, the perspectives of cms-T researchers, and future directions. In cms-T plants, male sterility is associated with premature breakdown of the mitochondria-rich, tapetal cell layer of the anther; this layer is crucial to pollen production because it supplies nutrients to the developing microspores. In many species, cms is associated with the expression of novel open-reading frames in the mitochondrial genome. The studies provided a foundation for further research that resulted in the cloning of the T-urf13 and Rf2 genes from maize and the ChPKSl gene from C. heterostrophus, and the generation of models for the topology of urf13 in the inner mitochondrial membrane, Rfl-mediated processing of T-urfl3 transcripts, and the evolution of toxin biosynthesis in C. heterostrophus and M. zeae-maydis.


This is a chapter from Advances in Agronomy 65 (1999): 79, doi: 10.1016/S0065-2113(08)60911-6.