University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, senior, major: biology with a special interest in molecular biology.
Mentor: Prem Chourey
Seed Development in Zea mays
Abstract: All flowering plants including Zea mays undergo double fertilization that initiates independent pathways for the endosperm and embryo in seed development. The mechanisms by which the endosperm and embryo communicate, or diverge without communicating, are not fully understood. This experiment searches for a correlation between maize embryo and endosperm masses and sugar and starch levels to determine the amount of cross-talk that takes place between the embryo and endosperm, and determine if this cross-talk may be responsible for hybrid vigor. It is predicted that the development of the endosperm and embryo are interdependent. The masses of starch-deficient mutant kernels were compared to the wild-type kernels to determine if less massive endosperms correlated to less massive embryos, which may indicate that deficient endosperms translated the deficiency to the embryo. Although the assays are not yet complete, sugar and starch levels in the mutant embryos and endosperms and those of hybrid kernels will be determined. The corresponding sugar and starch levels in the embryos will reveal whether or not the starch deficiency in the endosperm affects the sugar levels in the embryos. In conclusion, preliminary results show that development is dependent on endosperm, and that hybrid vigor is apparent in kernel size.
Jeff Browning dissects developing corn kernels to better understand cross-talk between nourishing part, endosperm, and the germ, embryo.