Journal Article

<i>Scarecrow</i> Plays a Role in Establishing Kranz Anatomy in Maize Leaves

Thomas L. Slewinski, Alyssa A. Anderson, Cankui Zhang and Robert Turgeon

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 53, issue 12, pages 2030-2037
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online November 2012 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:
Scarecrow Plays a Role in Establishing Kranz Anatomy in Maize Leaves

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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More than a quarter of the primary productivity on land, and a large fraction of the food that humans consume, is contributed by plants that fix atmospheric CO2 by C4 photosynthesis. It has been estimated that transferring the C4 pathway to C3 crops could boost yield by 50% and also increase water use efficiency and reduce the need for fertilizer, particularly in dry, hot environments. The high productivity of maize (Zea mays), sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) and several emerging bioenergy grasses is due largely to C4 photosynthesis, which is enabled by the orderly arrangement, in concentric rings, of specialized bundle sheath and mesophyll cells in leaves in a pattern known as Kranz anatomy. Here we show that PIN, the auxin efflux protein, is present in the end walls of maize bundle sheath cells, as it is in the endodermis of the root. Since this marker suggests the expression of endodermal genetic programs in bundle sheath cells, we determined whether the transcription factor SCARECROW, which regulates structural differentiation of the root endodermis, also plays a role in the development of Kranz anatomy in maize. Mutations in the Scarecrow gene result in proliferation of bundle sheath cells, abnormal differentiation of bundle sheath chloroplasts, vein disorientation, loss of minor veins and reduction of vein density. Further characterization of this signal transduction pathway should facilitate the transfer of the C4 trait into C3 crop species, including rice.

Keywords: C4 photosynthesis; Chloroplast structure; Pin-formed; Plasmodesmata; Scarecrow; Zea mays

Journal Article.  4610 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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