Research Report

Alternative Mutagens for maize (Zea mays L.)  

Williams M.E.
DuPont Pioneer, 7300 NW 62nd Avenue, Johnston, Iowa, 50131, USA
Author    Correspondence author
Maize Genomics and Genetics, 2016, Vol. 7, No. 2   doi: 10.5376/mgg.2016.07.0002
Received: 13 Jun., 2016    Accepted: 07 Aug., 2016    Published: 01 Oct., 2016
© 2016 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Williams M.E., 2016, Alternative Mutagens for Maize (Zea mays L.), Maize Genomics and Genetics, 7(2): 1-8 (doi: 10.5376/mgg.2016.07.0002)


Mutagenesis has been an important part of both basic and applied genetic research. In maize and many other plant species, EMS (ethyl methanesulfonate) has been the chemical of choice for generating mutagenized populations. However, in many species such as maize and Arabidopsis, the mutation spectrum of EMS is limited, with essentially all sequenced EMS-induced mutations being G:C to A:T transitions. In order to broaden the induced mutation spectrum in maize, a number of alternative mutagens were tested on seeds, including ENU (N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea), sodium azide and gamma ray irradiation. An assay based on leaf sectors indicating a change in the phenotype at the oil yellow1 (oy1) locus was utilized to determine mutagenicity and to produce sequences for analysis. All three mutagens produced a broader mutation spectrum relative to EMS. Collectively, all six of the possible single nucleotide changes were observed, although individually none of the mutagens tested at the depth we were able to complete produced all six. In maize, producing an optimal mutagenized population may involve utilizing a combination of mutagens. Even in the era of genome editing technologies, random mutagenesis, and improvements of it, will remain a useful tool going forward.

Maize; Mutagenesis; EMS; ENU; Sodium azide; Gamma ray irradiation
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