Inflorescence development in cereals, including such important crops as rice, maize, and wheat, directly affects grain number and size and is a key determinant of yield. Cytokinin regulates meristem size and activity and, as a result, has profound effects on inflorescence development and architecture. To clarify the role of cytokinin action in inflorescence development, we used the NanoString nCounter system to analyze gene expression in the early stages of rice panicle development, focusing on 67 genes involved in cytokinin biosynthesis, degradation, and signaling. Results point toward key members of these gene families involved in panicle development and indicate that the expression of many genes involved in cytokinin action differs between the panicle and vegetative tissues. Dynamic patterns of gene expression suggest that subnetworks mediate cytokinin action during different stages of panicle development. The variation of expression during panicle development is greater among genes encoding proteins involved in cytokinin metabolism and negative regulators of the pathway than for the genes in the primary response pathway. These results provide insight into the expression patterns of genes involved in cytokinin action during inflorescence development in a crop of agricultural importance, with relevance to similar processes in other monocots. The identification of subnetworks of genes expressed at different stages of early panicle development suggests that manipulation of their expression could have substantial effects on inflorescence architecture.
Yamburenko, Maria V.; Kieber, Joseph J.; and Schaller, G. Eric, "Dynamic Patterns of Expression for Genes Regulating Cytokinin Metabolism and Signaling during Rice Inflorescence Development" (2017). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 2662.