Different mutations in the ZmCAD2 gene underlie the maize brown-midrib1 (bm1) phenotype with similar effects on lignin characteristics and have potential interest for bioenergy production


The maize ZmCAD2 gene has been fully sequenced in several normal and bm1 maize lines, highlighting a large diversity of mutations underlying the bm1 phenotype. Mutations in three bm1 lines (F2bm1, A619bm1, and 511Jbm1) were found corresponding to short InDels inducing premature stop codons and truncated proteins. In two lines (511Kbm1 and 5803Cbm1), mutations were limited to an only SNP or to a few SNP, modifying the catalytic sites, and likely inactivating the proteins. Results also established that the 5803Ibm7 mutant was in fact a bm1 mutant, with a sequence fully identical to the 5803Cbm1 sequence. The two new F7803bm1 (natural mutant) and Ev2210bm1 (transposon tagging Mutator investigations) both had a transposon insertion in the ZmCAD2 DNA, resulting in a truncated protein, even if the mRNA was produced. The biochemical characteristics of the Ev2210bm1 lignins corroborated the signature of CAD2 deficiency in plants, with the presence of aldehydes and atypical compounds and linkages. Considering lignin structure and content, CAD2 is likely a good target for the improvement of energy production based on maize and grass lignocellulosic biomass, including a greater susceptibility to environmentally friendly pretreatments, as it was shown in bmr sorghum. The interest in maize bm1 hybrids for cattle feeding also should be considered because there seem to be little or limited negative effects of CAD2 mutations on other agronomical traits.


maize; brown midrib; bm1; lignin; ferulic acid; cell wall; degradability; biofuel; biogas

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