Genetic and cellular analysis of cross-incompatibility in Zea mays

Plant Reprod. 2014 Mar;27(1):19-29. doi: 10.1007/s00497-013-0236-5. Epub 2013 Nov 6.


Three genetic systems conferring cross-incompatibility have been described in Zea mays: Teosinte crossing barrier1-strong (Tcb1-s) found in teosinte, and Gametophyte factor1-strong (Ga1-s) and Ga2-s found in maize and teosinte. The reproductive barrier between maize and some weedy teosintes is controlled by the Tcb1-s locus. Multi-generation inheritance experiments on two independent Tcb1-s lineages show that the Tcb1-s barrier is unstable in some maize lines. Reciprocal crosses between Tcb1-s tester plants and three recombinants in the Tcb1-s mapping region demonstrate that the Tcb1-s haplotype contains separable male and female components. In vivo assays of the dynamics of pollen tube growth and pollen tube morphology during rejection of incompatible pollen in silks carrying the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, or Ga2-s barriers showed that, in all three, pollen tube growth is slower than in compatible crosses at early stages and had ceased by 24 h after pollination. In all three crossing barrier systems, incompatible pollen tubes have clustered callose plugs in contrast to pollen tubes of compatible crosses. Incompatible pollen tubes growing in the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, and Ga2-s silks have different morphologies: straight, curved, and kinked, respectively. The distinct morphologies suggest that these crossing barriers block incompatible pollen through different mechanisms. This study lays the foundation for cloning the Tcb1 genes and provides clues about the cellular mechanisms involved in pollen rejection in the Tcb1-s, Ga1-s, and Ga2-s crossing barriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breeding
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Pollen Tube / cytology
  • Pollen Tube / genetics
  • Pollen Tube / growth & development
  • Pollen Tube / physiology
  • Pollination
  • Reproduction
  • Seeds / cytology
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Seeds / physiology
  • Self-Fertilization
  • Zea mays / cytology
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / growth & development
  • Zea mays / physiology


  • Plant Proteins