Uncovering the role of hormones in maize brace root development

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University of Delaware
Maize forms aboveground nodal roots, termed brace roots, that are proposed to function in water/nutrient uptake as well as lodging resistance. Despite their important functions, it remains unclear how these stem-borne brace roots are initiated. Auxin is a central regulator of plant development. My research tests the hypothesis that auxin is necessary and sufficient for brace root initiation. Using a combination of microscopy and transcriptomics, I have established the foundation for investigating if auxin is necessary for brace root initiation. I have further developed methods of local exogenous application of hormones to test if auxin is sufficient for brace root initiation. Together, these results have uncovered additional questions and provide the basis for a long-term investigation of the role of auxin in stem-borne root development.
Brace roots, Maize