Use of Genetic Mutations to Thwart Cytoplasmic Male Sterility in Maize

Rachel Cathey

Authors:  Rachel Cathey, Karen Chasmusco, Christine Chase

Faculty Mentor:  Christine Chase

College:  College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Abstract

In cytoplasmic male sterility type S (CMS-S) maize, expression of a mitochondrial CMS gene causes pollen cell death. We hypothesize that loss-of-function mutations in nuclear genes normally required for mitochondrial gene expression will rescue CMS-S pollen. Nuclear genome mutations with the ability to thwart CMS-S were sought through a reverse genetics screen for restorer-of-fertility (restorer) mutations. The mutations selected were Mutator (Mu) transposon insertions in mterf, rpl27, and oxa1 genes, introduced through cross pollination onto CMS-S plants. Pollen-fertile progeny were recovered and the mutations were followed by PCR through a back-cross pollination to CMS-S plants. If the mutations are restorers, the hypothesis predicts all back-cross progeny plants will inherit the mutation and be pollen-fertile. We demonstrated the presence of the candidate restorer mutations in the progeny. Using Chi-squared analysis, p-values of less than 0.001 for both rpl27 and mterf and between 0.01 and 0.001 for oxa1, demonstrated strong genetic linkage between our mutants and fertility restoration. Each family did, however, include a few exceptional plants that did not carry the candidate restorer. Future plans are to look towards the cause of the exceptional plants, to see if there are additional unknown mutants contributing to the restoration of pollen function.

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Anonymous
Anonymous (@guest_76)
1 year ago

Great work!

Mark Law
Mark Law (@guest_124)
1 year ago

Nice work Rachel. Many of my peers (and wife) growing up worked in the fields detasseling corn.

Rachel Cathey
Rachel Cathey (@guest_2804)
Reply to  Mark Law
1 year ago

Hi Dr. Law, thank you for your support! Perhaps we can incorporate agricultural studies to a Lombardi/Stamps immersion trip, I’ve got quite a few corn plants to work with!

Anonymous
Anonymous (@guest_332)
1 year ago

Very informative! You did a wonderful job in the delivery of your presentation.

Allen Wysocki - Associate Dean CALS
Allen Wysocki - Associate Dean CALS (@guest_1546)
1 year ago

Rachel,

Well done. I am impressed that you used a powerpoint in addition to the poster. Very interesting and needed work.

Doc W

Rachel Cathey
Rachel Cathey (@guest_2552)

Thank you very much sir!

Christine Chase
Christine Chase (@guest_1788)
1 year ago

Rachel, congratulations on your great work and poster. Your “exceptional” plants are doing fine!

Rachel Cathey
Rachel Cathey (@guest_2682)
Reply to  Christine Chase
1 year ago

Dr. Chase, thank you very much! I’m excited to get back in the lab and continue our work. I can’t wait to uncover the cause, maybe we will find an additional mutant contributing!