Developmental and genetic aspects of Mutator excision in maize

Dev Genet. 1989;10(6):520-31. doi: 10.1002/dvg.1020100611.


The regulation of excision of Mu elements of the Mutator transposable element family of maize is not well understood. We have used somatic instability of Mu receptor elements from the Bronze 1 and Bronze 2 loci to monitor the frequency and the timing of excision of Mu elements in several tissues. We show that spot size in the aleurone of a bz2::mu1 stock varies between one to approximately 256 cells. This indicates that excision events begin eight divisions prior to full aleurone differentiation and end after the last division of the aleurone. We show that excision is equally biased for late events in all other tissues studied. A locus on chromosome 5 has been identified that affects spot size, possibly by altering the timing of Mu excision. Using somatic excision as an assay of Mutator activity, we found that activity can change in small sectors of the tassel; however, there are no overall activity changes in the tassel during the period of pollen shedding. We also report the recovery of germinal revertants for the bz1::mu1 and bz2::mu1 alleles. One of these revertant alleles was characterized by Southern blot analysis and found to be similar to the progenitor of the mutable allele.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Pollen
  • Video Recording
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / growth & development


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA