The leaf surfaces of almost all plant species possess specialized epidermal cell types that form hairs or trichomes. Maize leaves produce three distinct types of hairs, the most prominent being the macrohairs that serve as a marker for adult leaf identity and may contribute to insect resistance. This report describes the maize macrohairless1 (mhl1) locus, which promotes macrohair initiation specifically in the leaf blade. Each of seven recessive mhl1 mutant alleles significantly reduces or eliminates macrohairs in the leaf blade. The mhl1 mutations block macrohair initiation rather than interfering with macrohair morphogenesis. Genetic mapping placed mhl1 within bin 4 on chromosome 9. A second independently segregating locus was found to partially suppress the mhl1 mutant phenotype in certain genetic backgrounds. Macrohair density was observed to increase during early adult vegetative development and then progressively decline, suggesting macrohair initiation frequency is affected by factors that act throughout shoot development. Genetic analyses demonstrated that mhl1 acts in the same pathway but downstream of factors that either promote or repress adult leaf identity. Thus, mhl1 plays a key role in integrating developmental programs that regulate leaf identity during shoot development with those that specify macrohair initiation within the leaf blade.
ASJC Scopus subject areas