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maize, plant-plant interaction, transcriptome, weeds


Weed presence early in the life cycle of maize (typically, from emergence through the 8 to 12 leaf growth stage) can reduce crop growth and yield and is known as the critical weed‐free period (CWFP). Even if weeds are removed during or just after the CWFP, crop growth and yield often are not recoverable. We compared transcriptome responses of field‐grown hybrid maize at V8 in two consecutive years among plants grown under weed‐free and two weed‐stressed conditions (weeds removed at V4 or present through V8) using RNAseq analysis techniques. Compared with weed‐free plant responses, physiological differences at V8 were identified in all weed‐stressed plants and were most often associated with altered photosynthetic processes, hormone signaling, nitrogen use and transport, and biotic stress responses. Even when weeds were removed at V4 and tissues sampled at V8, carbon: nitrogen supply imbalance, salicylic acid signals, and growth responses differed between the weed‐stressed and weed‐free plants. These underlying processes and a small number of developmentally important genes are potential targets for decreasing the maize response to weed pressure. Expression differences of several novel, long noncoding RNAs resulting from exposure of maize to weeds during the CWFP were also observed and could open new avenues for investigation into the function of these transcription units.

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Plant Direct





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Wiley Online


This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.