Leaf angle is an important agronomic trait determining maize planting density and light penetration into the canopy, and contributes significantly to the yield gain in modern maize hybrids. However, little is known about its molecular mechanism beyond the Liguless1 (LG1) and Liguless2 (LG2) genes. In this study, we found that transcription factor ZmBEH1 is targeted by ZmLG2 and regulates the leaf angle formation by influencing the sclerenchyma cells layers on the adaxial side. ZmBEH1 can interact with transcription factor ZmBZR1, whose expression is directly activated by ZmLG1. Both ZmBEH1 and ZmBZR1 bind to the promoter of ZmSCL28, the third transcription factors that influences the leaf angle. Our study demonstrates novel regulatory modules controlling leaf angle, and provides new gene editing targets for creating optimal maize architecture suitable for dense-planting.
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