The number of viable shoots influences the overall architecture and productivity of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The development of lateral branches, or tillers, largely determines the resultant canopy. Tillers develop from the outgrowth of axillary buds, which form in leaf axils at the crown of the plant. Tiller number can be reduced if axillary buds are not formed or if the outgrowth of these buds is restricted. The teosinte branched1 (tb1) gene in maize, and homologs in rice and Arabidopsis, genetically regulate vegetative branching. In maize, increased expression of the tb1 gene restricts the outgrowth of axillary buds into lateral branches. In this study, the maize tb1 gene was introduced through transformation into the wheat cultivar "Bobwhite" to determine the effect of tb1 overexpression on wheat shoot architecture. Examination of multiple generations of plants reveals that tb1 overexpression in wheat results in reduced tiller and spike number. In addition, the number of spikelets on the spike and leaf number were significantly greater in tb1-expressing plants, and the height of these plants was also reduced. These data reveal that the function of the tb1 gene and genetic regulation of lateral branching via the tb1 mode of action is conserved between wheat, rice, maize and Arabidopsis. Thus, the tb1 gene can be used to alter plant architecture in agriculturally important crops like wheat.
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- Axillary meristem
- Teosinte branched1
- Triticum aestivum L.