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Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Volume 65, 2022, 102168

Evolution of inflorescence branch modifications in cereal crops

Ravi Koppolu1, Shulin Chen2, Thorsten Schnurbusch1,3

Independent HEISENBERG Research Group Plant Architecture, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Corrensstr. 3, OT Gatersleben, 06466 Seeland, Germany.

Abstract

Grasses are ubiquitous in our daily lives, with gramineous cereal crops such as maize, rice, and wheat constituting a large proportion of our daily staple food intake. Evolutionary forces, especially over the past ∼20 million years, have shaped grass adaptability, inflorescence architecture, and reproductive success. Here, we provide basic information on grass evolution and inflorescence structures mainly related to two inflorescence types: branched panicle- and spike-type inflorescences, the latter of which has highly modified branching. We summarize and compare known genetic pathways underlying each infloresecence type and discuss how the maize RAMOSA, rice ABERRANT PANICLE ORGANIZATION, and Triticeae COMPOSITUM pathways are regulated. Our analyses might lay the foundation for understanding species-specific gene regulatory networks that could result in improved sink capacities.

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