Polyembryony (PE) is a rare phenomenon in cultivated plant species. Since nineteenth century, several reports have been published on PE in maize. Reports of multiple seedlings developing at embryonic level in laboratory and studies under greenhouse and field conditions have demonstrated the presence of PE in cultivated maize (Zea mays L.). Nevertheless, there is a lack of knowledge about this phenomenon; diverse genetic mechanisms controlling PE in maize have been proposed: Mendelian inheritance of a single gene, interaction between two genes and multiple genes are some of the proposed mechanisms. On the other hand, the presence of two or more embryos per seed confers higher nutrimental quality because these grains have more crude fat and lysine than normal maize kernels. As mentioned above, there is a necessity for more studies about PE maize in order to establish the genetic mechanism responsible for this phenomenon; on the other hand, previous studies showed that PE has potential to generate specialized maize varieties with yield potential and grain quality.
Part of the book: Maize Germplasm