MSH7 confers quantitative variation in pollen fertility and boosts grain yield in maize
China Agricultural University and its partners unveiled two genes that
confer natural variation in maize pollen fertility. Their findings are
published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.
Understanding the regulation of pollen fertility in natural populations has
been a mystery for scientists. To dig deeper into this mystery, the
researchers explored using a genome-wide association study and found two
crucial genes in maize pollen fertility-ZmGEN1A and ZmMSH7. Mutants with
defective versions of these genes showed reduced pollen fertility and lower
crop yields. Furthermore, ZmMSH7 has been under selection pressure during
maize domestication. This means farmers have unknowingly favored plants with
a slightly altered version of this gene over time, likely because it offered
The study's findings provide a better understanding of pollen fertility and
its impact on crop yields.