Setaria viridis is a rapid-life-cycle model panicoid grass. To identify genes that may contribute to inflorescence architecture and thus have the potential to influence grain yield in related crops such as maize, we conducted an N-nitroso-N-methylurea (NMU) mutagenesis of S. viridis and screened for visible inflorescence mutant phenotypes. Of the approximately 2,700 M2 families screened, we identified four recessive sparse panicle mutants (spp1-spp4) characterized by reduced and uneven branching of the inflorescence. To identify the gene underlying the sparse panicle1 (spp1) phenotype, we performed bulked segregant analysis and deep sequencing to fine map it to an approximately 1 Mb interval. Within this interval, we identified disruptive mutations in two genes. Complementation tests between spp1 and spp3 revealed they were allelic, and deep sequencing of spp3 identified an independent disruptive mutation in SvAUX1 (AUXIN1), one of the two genes in the ∼1 Mb interval and the only gene disruption shared between spp1 and spp3. SvAUX1 was found to affect both inflorescence development and root gravitropism in S. viridis. A search for orthologous mutant alleles in maize confirmed a very similar role of ZmAUX1 in maize, which highlights the utility of S. viridis in accelerating functional genomic studies in maize.