Kernel size in cereal is an important agronomic trait controlled by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The endosperm occupies most of the kernel area; for this reason, the endosperm cells dimension, number and metabolic content strongly influence kernel properties. This paper presents the transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis of the maize defective endosperm 18 (de18) mutant, where auxin accumulation in the endosperm is impaired. This mutation, involving the ZmYuc1 gene, leads to a reduced kernel size compared to the wild-type line B37. Our results mainly indicate that IAA concentration controls sugar and protein metabolism during kernel differentiation and it is necessary for BETL formation. Furthermore, a fine tuning of different auxin conjugates is reported as the main mechanism to counteract the auxin deficit. Some candidates as master regulators of endosperm transcriptional regulation mediated by auxin are found between MYB and MADS-box gene families. A link between auxin and storage protein accumulation is highlighted, suggesting that IAA directly or indirectly, through CK or ABA, regulates the transcription of zein coding genes. This study represents a move forward with respect to the current knowledge about the role of auxin during maize endosperm differentiation thus revealing the genes that are modulated by auxin and that control agronomic traits as kernel size and metabolic composition.
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science