New Techniques Enhance Analysis of Early Leaf and Root Growth in Maize

Two recent papers from maize genetics labs in the Division of Biological Sciences introduce novel methods for studying the anatomy and cellular traits of maize tissues at early developmental stages.

In the Journal of Visualized Experiments, the McSteen Lab presents two methods that overcome the challenge of studying early maize leaf development, where the leaf primordia are “deeply ensheathed and rolled within the leaf whorl.” These methods make it possible for researchers to exploit fluorescence and confocal imaging to visualize anatomy and cellular features of developing leaves. Alumnus Dr. Janlo Robil (Ph.D., 2022) is first-author of the paper.

In a separate publication in Bio-protocol, the Braun Lab describes a modified plate-growth procedure for maize. This method allows researchers to track root growth over time, starting as early as two days after germination. This technique builds upon a procedure commonly used in Arabidopsis research and adapts it to the specific needs of maize. According to the authors, “The procedure can grow seedlings under a variety of conditions and treatments in a sterile environment, allowing researchers to investigate numerous effects in the embryonic root and shoot systems of maize and other cereal crops.”

Robil, J. M., Cortez, C. D. T., Villafuerte, C. M. R., Dela Peña, E. D. C., De Leon, D. O., Rioja, R. J. R., McSteen, P. Improved methods for preparing transverse sections and unrolled whole mounts of maize leaf primordia for fluorescence and confocal imaging (2023). J. Vis. Exp. (199),e65239

Roberts J.T., McCubbin T.J., Braun D.M. A plate growth assay to quantify embryonic root development of Zea mays (2023) Bio-Protocol, 13 (20), art. no. e4858