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Despite recent progress, the mechanisms governing shoot morphogenesis in higher plants are only partially understood. Classical physiological studies have suggested that gradients of the plant growth regulator auxin may play a role in controlling tissue differentiation in shoots. More recent molecular genetic studies have also identified knotted1 like homeobox (knox) genes as important regulators of shoot development. The maize (Zea mays L.) mutant rough sheath2 (rs2) displays ectopic expression of at least three knox genes and consequently conditions a range of shoot and leaf phenotypes, including aberrant vascular development, ligular displacements, and dwarfism (R. Schneeberger, M. Tsiantis, M. Freeling, J.A. Langdale [1998] Development 125: 2857-2865). In this report, we show that rs2 mutants also display decreased polar auxin transport in the shoot. We also demonstrate that germination of wild-type maize seedlings on agents known to inhibit polar auxin transport mimics aspects of the rs2 mutant phenotype. The phenotype elaborated in inhibitor-treated plants is not correlated with ectopic KNOX protein accumulation.

Original publication




Journal article


Plant Physiol

Publication Date





1163 - 1168