WARF: P130256US02

Gene Controls Flowering Time in Corn


Shawn Kaeppler, Natalia de Leon Gatti, German Muttoni, Jillian Foerster

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing genetic methods to hasten or delay flowering in maize, rice, sorghum and other plants.
OVERVIEWPlant development is marked by three phases: juvenile, adult vegetative and flowering. The timing between phases is known to impact traits like yield, productivity and tissue digestibility. However, the genetic triggers that drive these phase changes are not fully understood.

UW–Madison researchers previously identified a gene in maize that helps control the transition between the juvenile and adult stage (see WARF reference number P120179US02). A similar understanding of flower timing would be valuable as well, potentially leading to improved crops that are optimized for different climates.
THE INVENTIONThe researchers now have found a gene in maize that affects flowering time. By modulating this gene, GRMZM2G171650, the onset of flowering in maize may be delayed or accelerated. Standard vector and transgenic methods can be employed to overexpress or suppress the gene, or introduce it into new crop lines.

The gene was identified by studying more than 500 different maize lines. The researchers mapped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) correlating to early or late flowering traits. A large concentration of such SNPs was located in GRMZM2G171650, a transcription factor on chromosome 3. The gene was of previously unknown function in corn.
  • Controlling flowering time in maize, rice, sorghum, switchgrass and other plants
  • Optimizing crops for different climates (e.g., earlier flowering/harvesting for shorter growing seasons)
  • Altered flowering time could improve properties relating to yield, biofuel, processing, animal feed and disease resistance.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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