Maize unilateral cross-incompatibility (UCI) that causes non-Mendelian segregation ratios has been documented for more than a century. Ga1, Ga2, and Tcb1 are three major UCI systems, described but not fully understood. Here, we report comprehensive genetic studies on the Ga2 locus and map-based cloning of the tightly linked male determinant ZmGa2P and female determinant ZmGa2F that govern pollen-silk compatibility among different maize genotypes. Both determinants encode putative pectin methylesterases (PME). A significantly higher degree of methyl esterification is detected in the apical region of pollen tubes growing in incompatible silks. No direct interaction between ZmGa2P and ZmGa2F is detected in the yeast two-hybrid system implying a distinct mechanism from that of self-incompatibility (SI). We also demonstrate the feasibility of Ga2 as a reproductive barrier in commercial breeding programs and stacking Ga2 with Ga1 could strengthen the UCI market potentials.
© 2022. The Author(s).