Development of a novel recessive genetic male sterility system for hybrid seed production in maize and other cross‐pollinating crops
Although hundreds of genetic male sterility (GMS) mutants have been identified in maize, few are commercially used due to a lack of effective methods to produce large quantities of pure male-sterile seeds. Here, we develop a multicontrol sterility (MCS) system based on the maize male sterility 7 (ms7) mutant and its wild-type Zea mays Male sterility 7 (ZmMs7) gene via a transgenic strategy, leading to the utilization of GMS in hybrid seed production. ZmMs7 is isolated by a map-based cloning approach and encodes a PHD-finger transcription factor orthologous to rice PTC1 and Arabidopsis MS1. The MCS transgenic maintainer lines are developed based on the ms7-6007 mutant transformed with MCS constructs containing the (i) ZmMs7 gene to restore fertility, (ii) α-amylase gene ZmAA and/or (iii) DNA adenine methylase gene Dam to devitalize transgenic pollen, (iv) red fluorescence protein gene DsRed2 or mCherry to mark transgenic seeds and (v) herbicide-resistant gene Bar for transgenic seed selection. Self-pollination of the MCS transgenic maintainer line produces transgenic red fluorescent seeds and nontransgenic normal colour seeds at a 1:1 ratio. Among them, all the fluorescent seeds are male fertile, but the seeds with a normal colour are male sterile. Cross-pollination of the transgenic plants to male-sterile plants propagates male-sterile seeds with high purity. Moreover, the transgene transmission rate through pollen of transgenic plants harbouring two pollen-disrupted genes is lower than that containing one pollen-disrupted gene. The MCS system has great potential to enhance the efficiency of maize male-sterile line propagation and commercial hybrid seed production.