The yield of many crop plants is influenced by the number of axillary shoot branches they produce. Plants possess several mechanisms to control axillary branch growth and development. Recently, tremendous progress has been achieved towards gaining a better understanding of these mechanisms, and several novel genes have been identified which are implicated in shoot branching. This chapter highlights recent progress made in our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying axillary shoot branch growth and development in monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. Furthermore, the interplay is discussed between phytohormones (abscisic acid, auxin, cytokinins) and other metabolites (carotenoid derivatives, polyamines, inositol phosphates) in controlling axillary shoot branching.
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