Genome information from model species such as rice can assist in the cloning of genes in a complex genome, such as maize. Here, we identified a maize ortholog of rice GS5 that contributes to kernel development in maize. The genome-wide association analysis of the expression levels of ZmGS5, and 15 of its 26 paralogs, identified a trans-regulator on chromosome 7, which was a BAK1-like gene. This gene that we named as ZmBAK1-7 could regulate the expression of ZmGS5 and three of the paralogs. Candidate-gene association analyses revealed that these five genes were associated with maize kernel development-related traits. Linkage analyses also detected that ZmGS5 and ZmBAK1-7 co-localized with mapped QTLs. A transgenic analysis of ZmGS5 in Arabidopsis thaliana L. showed a significant increase in seed weight and cell number, suggesting that ZmGS5 may have a conserved function among different plant species that affects seed development.