Tillering in the Sugary1 sweet corn is maintained by overriding the teosinte branched1 repressive signal
The evolution of apical dominance in maize during domestication from teosinte is associated with higher expression from the teosinte branched1 (tb1) gene that inhibits tiller bud outgrowth. Unlike many standard maize varieties, the sweet corn inbred P39 that carries a mutation in a starch biosynthesis gene sugary1 produces multiple tillers and providing an opportunity to explore the diversification of the tb1 signal in maize. Through gene expression analysis, we show that tiller buds in P39 continue to grow by overriding the high expression level of tb1 that arrests bud outgrowth in maize inbred B73. In addition, we demonstrate that while B73 is largely non-responsive to shade, both P39 and teosinte respond through tb1-independent and tb1-dependent molecular mechanisms, respectively, leading to inhibition of tiller bud outgrowth.