Researchers report that increasing and expanding expression of zmm28, a maize transcription factor gene, can produce plants with increased growth and nutrient use capacity. Maize is a leading cereal crop in the world, but yield increases are not keeping pace with demand. Genetic engineering approaches to increase yield have thus far been confined to the laboratory scale. Jingrui Wu, Jeffrey E. Habben, and colleagues increased and expanded the expression of the zmm28 gene, a maize transcription factor. The gene is in a family of MADS-box genes, which control plant development and govern the transition to reproductive growth and floral differentiation. In field tests, the authors showed that zmm28-overexpression produced consistently and significantly higher grain yield than wild-type maize across multiple locations and years. Examining the high-yield hybrid events, the authors found that the zmm28-overexpressing maize increased nitrogen uptake and assimilation, improved photosynthetic activity, and increased in leaf area and biomass. According to the authors, the results suggest that alteration in the expression of a single maize gene can result in improvement in grain yield in the field.
Article #19-02593: "Overexpression of zmm28 increases maize grain yield in the field," by Jingrui Wu et al.