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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Functional Plant Biology publishes new and significant information on the functional biology of plants at all scales from the molecular through whole plant to community. More

Editor-in-Chief: Sergey Shabala


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Published online 30 June 2015
Compact panicle architecture is detrimental for growth as well as sucrose synthase activity of developing rice kernels 
B. B. Panda, A. K. Badoghar, K. Das, R. Panigrahi, E. Kariali, S. R. Das, S. K. Dash, B. P. Shaw and P. K. Mohapatra

Poor synthesis of starch in the grains on the basal part of rice panicle of modern rice cultivars underscores their potential for high grain yield. The study identified genetic expression of starch synthesising enzymes, particularly sucrose synthase, poor in the in the inferior type grains. Harnessing high yield in these rice cultivars need genetic manipulation of the enzyme for improved grain filling.

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Published online 26 June 2015
What drives fruit growth? 
Robert C. O. Okello, Ep Heuvelink, Pieter H. B. de Visser, Paul C. Struik and Leo F. M. Marcelis

Although plant growth through aggregation of number and size of tissues and organs seems straightforward, the cellular basis of fruit growth is still unresolved. We argue that (1) the positive correlation between cell number and fruit size does not imply a causal relationship, and (2) fruit growth is regulated by a global protein through cell autonomous and noncell autonomous mechanisms. We propose that fruit size can be manipulated via genes regulating cell division or cell expansion.

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Published online 24 June 2015
Ultrastructural and biochemical changes induced by salt stress in Jatropha curcas seeds during germination and seedling development 
Nara L. M. Alencar, Cibelle G. Gadelha, Maria I. Gallão, Mary A. H. Dolder, José T. Prisco and Enéas Gomes-Filho

Jatropha curcas emerges as potential energy source but the effects of NaCl stress on germination and seed reserves are poorly known. Salt stress delays protein and lipid mobilisation and promotes ultrastructural changes in endosperm cells. Seed germination of J. curcas is inhibited through increase the Na+ and Cl accumulation in the embryo axes and endosperm of seeds.

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Published online 24 June 2015
Rising temperature may negate the stimulatory effect of rising CO2 on growth and physiology of Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) 
James D. Lewis, Nathan G. Phillips, Barry A. Logan, Renee A. Smith, Iker Aranjuelo, Steve Clarke, Catherine A. Offord, Allison Frith, Margaret Barbour, Travis Huxman and David T. Tissue

Wollemi pine, formerly widespread in Australia, has been reduced by past climate change to a remnant population and this rare species may be pushed to extinction by future climate change. We examined the impact of rising [CO2] and temperature on clonally propagated seedlings, and observed positive impacts on growth and physiology in elevated [CO2] that were generally negated by elevated temperature. The remnant wild population of Wollemi pine is susceptible to warming, which may be the most significant environmental factor determining success in a future climate.

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Published online 22 June 2015
Optimum temperature for floral terpene emissions tracks the mean temperature of the flowering season 
Gerard Farré-Armengol, Iolanda Filella, Joan Llusià, Ülo Niinemets and Josep Peñuelas

Flower scent plays a crucial role in pollinator attraction and is affected by environmental conditions such as temperature. We tested whether optimum temperatures for floral emissions are adapted to the temperature range during the flowering period and found that species flowering in cold seasons have lower optimum temperatures than those flowering in warm seasons. The results suggest that the flower physiology of different species is adapted to optimise emissions during their flowering period.

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Published online 15 June 2015
High resolution imaging of maize (Zea maize) leaf temperature in the field: the key role of the regions of interest 
Taha Jerbi, Nathalie Wuyts, Maria Angela Cane, Philippe-François Faux and Xavier Draye

Remote sensing technologies have the potential to help scientists, breeders and decision makers to assess the extent to which crops are affected by drought. This paper evaluates some benefits of high spatial resolution for thermal imaging applications in field conditions. The study indicates that careful selection of information-rich areas in canopy images captures temperature differences that are filtered out in lower resolution configurations.

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Published online 05 June 2015
Alkaloid production and capacity for methyljasmonate induction by hairy roots of two species in Tribe Anthocercideae, family Solanaceae 
Suzanne M. Ryan, Kathleen D. DeBoer and John D. Hamill

Within the family Solanaceae, tribe Anthocercideae and the genus Nicotiana (tobacco) diverged from common ancestral stock ~15 million years ago. Cultured roots of the Anthocercideae species Cyphanthera tasmanica and Anthocercis ilicifolia ssp ilicifolia produce the medicinally useful tropane alkaloid hyoscyamine and also the pyridine alkaloids nicotine and nornicotine. We observed that treatment of these roots with low levels of the wound hormone methyl jasmonate led to increased levels of nicotine/nornicotine but not hyoscyamine, possibly indicating evolutionary conservation of mechanisms underpinning wound-stress induction of pyridine alkaloid metabolism for defensive purposes.

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Published online 04 June 2015
Selectable marker-free co-expression of Nicotiana rustica CN and Nicotiana tabacum HAK1 genes improves resistance to tobacco mosaic virus in tobacco 
Li-Jun Qin, Dan Zhao, Yi Zhang and De-Gang Zhao

Diseases-resistance gene and mineral nutrition play an important role in improving the plant resistance to pathogens. TMV-resistance gene CN with K-enrichment gene HAK1 synergistically improved TMV-resistance in selectable marker-free tobaccos by adjusting potassium status, regulating resistance defence and affecting K+-involved biotic stress-resistance. This study provided a way for screening new varieties of marker-free and antiviral tobaccos.

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Published online 01 June 2015
Dynamic response of plant chlorophyll fluorescence to light, water and nutrient availability 
M. Pilar Cendrero-Mateo, A. Elizabete Carmo-Silva, Albert Porcar-Castell, Erik P. Hamerlynck, Shirley A. Papuga and M. Susan Moran

Chlorophyll fluorescence is under consideration as a potential tool for assessing plant physiological status over large areas using remote sensing sensors. This study demonstrated that under growth light conditions, chlorophyll fluorescence is a versatile and robust indicator of crop stress in response to both water and nitrogen deficit. This study provides support for the use of remotely-sensed chlorophyll fluorescence as a proxy to monitor plant stress dynamics from space.

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Published online 29 May 2015
Novel insights into the Citrus sinensis nonhost response suggest photosynthesis decline, abiotic stress networks and secondary metabolism modifications 
Lucas D. Daurelio, M. Laura Tondo, M. Soledad Romero, Paz Merelo, Adriana A. Cortadi, Manuel Talón, Francisco R. Tadeo and Elena G. Orellano

Citrus species are one of the most important fruit crops worldwide but pathogen attacks cause significant losses in their production. With the aim of contributing to finding solutions, the fundamental defence mechanism known as the nonhost response was studied in sweet orange and the participation of novel features was determined. These results contribute to our overall comprehension of this defence strategy in nonmodel tree plants.

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Published online 28 May 2015
Spatial heterogeneity in stomatal features during leaf elongation: an analysis using Rosa hybrida 
Dimitrios Fanourakis, Ep Heuvelink and Susana M. P. Carvalho

Stomatal features are determined by examining an area that does not exceed 1 cm2. This study reveals a considerable within-leaf heterogeneity in these features, with implications in studying stomatal initiation or estimating stomatal conductance. We show that the sampling scheme for stomatal traits ought to be a function of the leaf developmental stage, the feature under study and the growth environment.

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Published online 28 May 2015
Photon flux density and temperature-dependent responses of photosynthesis and photosystem II performance of apple leaves grown in field conditions 
Dennis H. Greer

The interaction of light and leaf temperature on the photosynthetic process is important to understand how climate affects productivity. This study documents the interaction on photosynthesis but also the performance of PSII across different light and temperature conditions. Modelling the photosynthetic response has enhanced understanding of the photochemical and non-photochemical contributions to photosynthesis in different light and temperature conditions.

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Published online 26 May 2015
Interactive effect of biochar and plant growth-promoting bacterial endophytes on ameliorating salinity stress in maize 
Saqib Saleem Akhtar, Mathias Neumann Andersen, Muhammad Naveed, Zahir Ahmad Zahir and Fulai Liu

Salinity stress constraints plant growth and reduces crop yield. Incorporation of biochar and plant growth-promoting endophytic bacteria containing 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase and exopolysaccharide activity in the soil could mitigate salinity stress in maize either by decreasing sodium uptake or by maintaining nutrient balance. Therefore, inoculation of plants with endophytic bacterial strains along with biochar amendment could be an effective approach for sustaining crop production in salt-affected soils.

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Published online 25 May 2015
Cryptic crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in Jatropha curcas 
Klaus Winter and Joseph A. M. Holtum

Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae) is a drought-tolerant shrub or small tree that is a candidate bioenergy feedstock. J. curcas exhibits features diagnostic of low-level crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a water-conserving mode of photosynthesis. Studies of plants with low-level CAM activity are key for our understanding of how plants have transitioned from C3 to CAM.

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Published online 14 May 2015
A possible link between hydraulic properties and leaf habits in Hevea brasiliensis 
Jun-Wen Chen and Kun-Fang Cao

Rubber tree is an evergreen tree from the Amazon rainforest; however, we have never understood why it changes into a deciduous species in introduced ranges, such as the Xishuangbanna region, China. To analyse the reason for this change in leaf habit, a co-occurring native evergreen tree was selected as a comparison. This study found that seasonal drought is the main reason for leaf shedding in rubber tree in introduced ranges.

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Published online 14 May 2015
Variation potential induces decreased PSI damage and increased PSII damage under high external temperatures in pea 
Vladimir Sukhov, Lyubov Surova, Oksana Sherstneva, Albina Bushueva and Vladimir Vodeneev

In higher plants, local damage induces a unique electrical signal: variation potential, which influences numerous physiological processes; however, its role in plant life is not clear. We showed that variation potential decreases PSI damage, increases PSII damage and raises the resistance of the whole plant under heating. Thus variation potential can increase the probability of plant survival under high temperatures.

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Volume 42 Number 7 2015

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Descriptive Table of Contents 
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In vivo epidermal UV-A absorbance is induced by sunlight and protects Soldanella alpina leaves from photoinhibition 
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Constance Laureau, Sylvie Meyer, Xavier Baudin, Christophe Huignard and Peter Streb
pp. 599-608

High intensities of UV radiation and visible light are important stress factors affecting plants’ photosynthetic performance, particularly in the mountains. Protection from this stress is provided by UV-absorbing pigments in the epidermis of Soldanella alpina leaves and is induced by visible light. This UV shielding protects leaves from photodamage in their natural environment.

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Photosynthetic characteristics and light energy conversions under different light environments in five tree species occupying dominant status at different stages of subtropical forest succession 
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Qiang Zhang, Tai-Jie Zhang, Wah Soon Chow, Xin Xie, Yuan-Jun Chen and Chang-Lian Peng
pp. 609-619

How light drives the development of forest ecosystems is still not fully understood. The aim of this study is to reveal the mechanism driving subtropical forest succession along a light gradient. Our results indicate that photosynthetic capacity decreases along the successional axis and that late-successional species have more responsive energy dissipation capability to compensate for their inferior photosynthetic capacity.


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Dynamic carbon allocation into source and sink tissues determine within-plant differences in carbon isotope ratios 
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Frederik Wegener, Wolfram Beyschlag and Christiane Werner
pp. 620-629

Plant organs of C3 plants differ in their C isotopic signature (δ13C) but the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. We induced different allocation strategies and found that the spatial δ13C variation within plants was strongly influenced by the life stage of the leaves. These results are important, as foliar δ13C is used in many fields of plant science (e.g. for estimating photosynthetic isotope fractionation).

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The role of oxidative stress in determining the level of viability of black poplar (Populus nigra) seeds stored at different temperatures 
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Ewa Marzena Kalemba, Jan Suszka and Ewelina Ratajczak
pp. 630-642

Black poplar (Populus nigra L.) is one of the most threatened tree species in Europe and they produce seeds characterised by short longevity. Oxidative stress increases during seed storage and injures seed tissues resulting in a loss of viability, particularly at temperatures higher than -10°C. Successful storage of seeds might be prolonged when specific low temperature is applied that minimises oxidative stress effects.

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Crosstalk among nitric oxide, calcium and reactive oxygen species during triterpenoid biosynthesis in Betula platyphylla 
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Fansuo Zeng, Kun Liu, Sida Li and Yaguang Zhan
pp. 643-654

Crosstalk among NO, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and Ca2+ in tree species was not clear. The study showed that NO plays important roles in the synthesis and accumulation of triterpenoids in birch by regulating the intracellular ROS and Ca2+ signalling pathway. These results provide the theoretical basis and the technical support required for the use of triterpenoid biotechnology.

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Assessment of drought tolerance and its potential yield penalty in potato 
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Heike Sprenger, Katharina Rudack, Christian Schudoma, Arne Neumann, Sylvia Seddig, Rolf Peters, Ellen Zuther, Joachim Kopka, Dirk K. Hincha, Dirk Walther and Karin Köhl
pp. 655-667

Reduced water availability for agriculture make potato a desirable crop due to its high calorie production per unit of water; however, the crop is sensitive to drought. A research project detected drought-tolerant cultivars among those bred for temperate climate. These cultivars will be used to identify marker-based strategies for the efficient breeding of drought-tolerant potatoes to reduce yield loss due to water shortage.

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The decline in xylem flow to mango fruit at the end of its development is related to the appearance of embolism in the fruit pedicel 
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Thibault Nordey, Mathieu Léchaudel and Michel Génard
pp. 668-675

Fruit water balance changes during the late growth stage in part due to xylem flow decrease. Our measurements on mango revealed that the decline in xylem flow was related to the decrease in the hydraulic conductivity of xylem vessels due to embolism. The xylem decrease in the later growth stage could affect fruit growth and fruit mineral composition.


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Genetic suppression of plant development and chloroplast biogenesis via the Snowy Cotyledon 3 and Phytochrome B pathways 
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Diep Ganguly, Peter Crisp, Klaus Harter, Barry J. Pogson and Verónica Albrecht-Borth
pp. 676-686

In this study, we used genetic approaches and transcriptome profiling to unravel the complex interaction of different developmental pathways required for chloroplast development in plants. The recently described snowy cotyledon 3 (sco3) Arabidopsis thaliana mutant as well as the well characterised Phytochrome B (phyB) mutant revealed a complex suppressive or additive genetically linked regulation of chloroplast development, flowering time and transcription regulation in the double mutant sco3–phyB.

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Heterogeneity of photosynthesis within leaves is associated with alteration of leaf structural features and leaf N content per leaf area in rice 
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Dongliang Xiong, Tingting Yu, Xi Liu, Yong Li, Shaobing Peng and Jianliang Huang
pp. 687-696

Leaf photosynthesis, as a most important functional trait, is usually represented by point measurements, based on a hypothesis of photosynthetic rate is uniform within leaves. In this paper, we investigated the heterogeneity of photosynthesis within leaves in two rice cultivars. The results indicated that CO2 diffusion conductance as well as leaf nitrogen, Rubisco, and chlorophyll contents increased from base to apex; consequently, photosynthesis increased along leaves. The findings could provide knowledge complement in rice photosynthesis.


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Sapwood allocation in tropical trees: a test of hypotheses 
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Peter Schippers, Mart Vlam, Pieter A. Zuidema and Frank Sterck
pp. 697-709

Carbon allocation in tropical trees is a key process in determining the carbon sequestration of the forest. By combining a tree growth model and tree ring records we discovered that allocation with low priority to sapwood was the best candidate explaining our results. This new allocation assumption may greatly influence predicted carbon sequestration of tropical forests under climatic change.

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These articles have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. They are still in production and have not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

    FP15133  Accepted 25 June 2015
    Cellular pathways of source leaf phloem loading and of phloem unloading in developing stems of Sorghum bicolor in relation to stem sucrose storage
    Ricky Milne, Tina Offler, John Patrick, Christopher Grof

    FP15025  Accepted 24 June 2015
    Genetic approaches to enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in cereals: challenges and future directions
    Trevor Garnett, Darren Plett, Sigrid Heuer, Mamoru Okamoto

    FP15041  Accepted 22 June 2015
    Genetic diversity for root plasticity and nitrogen uptake in wheat seedlings
    Vanessa Melino, Gabriele Fiene, Akiko Enju, Jinhai Cai, Peter Buchner, Sigrid Heuer

    FP15077  Accepted 20 June 2015
    A thermodynamic analysis of the feasibility of water secretion into xylem vessels against a water potential gradient
    Lars Wegner

    FP14361  Accepted 17 June 2015
    Effects of elevated temperature on sucrose metabolism and cellulose synthesis in cotton fiber during secondary wall development
    Yanjiao Dai, Binglin Chen, Yali Meng, Wenqing Zhao, Zhiguo Zhou, Youhua Wang, Derrick Oosterhuis

    FP15035  Accepted 12 June 2015
    Constitutively over-expressing a tomato fructokinase gene (LeFRK1) in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., (c.v. Coker 312) positively affects plant vegetative growth, boll number, and seed cotton yield
    Thiya Mukherjee, Mariana Ivanova, Marisela Dagda, Yoshinori Kanayama, David Granot, A. Holaday

    FP14324  Accepted 09 June 2015
    The hydraulic architecture of Eucalyptus trees growing across a gradient of depth-to-groundwater
    SEPIDEH ZOLFAGHAR, Randol Villalobos-Vega, Melanie Zeppel, Derek Eamus


The Most Read ranking is based on the number of downloads from the CSIRO PUBLISHING website of articles published in the previous 12 months. Usage statistics are updated daily.

Rank Paper Details
1. Published 13 February 2015
The structure and activity of nodulation-suppressing CLE peptide hormones of legumes

April H. Hastwell, Peter M. Gresshoff and Brett J. Ferguson

2. Published 14 August 2014
Crop yield components – photoassimilate supply- or utilisation limited-organ development?

John W. Patrick and Kim Colyvas

3. Published 30 September 2014
Genomics for drought resistance – getting down to earth

Abraham Blum

4. Published 30 September 2014
Strategies to increase the yield and yield stability of crops under drought – are we making progress?

Neil C. Turner, Abraham Blum, Mehmet Cakir, Pasquale Steduto, Roberto Tuberosa and Neil Young

5. Published 30 September 2014
Two potato (Solanum tuberosum) varieties differ in drought tolerance due to differences in root growth at depth

Jaime Puértolas, Carlos Ballester, E. David Elphinstone and Ian C. Dodd

6. Published 14 July 2014
Photosynthesis–nitrogen relationships in tropical forest tree species as affected by soil phosphorus availability: a controlled environment study

Keith J. Bloomfield, Graham D. Farquhar and Jon Lloyd

7. Published 14 August 2014
Review on shape formation in epidermal pavement cells of the Arabidopsis leaf

Eveline Jacques, Jean-Pierre Verbelen and Kris Vissenberg

8. Published 7 January 2015
High night temperature induces contrasting responses for spikelet fertility, spikelet tissue temperature, flowering characteristics and grain quality in rice

Onoriode Coast, Richard H. Ellis, Alistair J. Murdoch, Cherryl Quiñones and Krishna S. V. Jagadish

9. Published 12 May 2015
Towards a conceptual ABA ideotype in plant breeding for water limited environments

Abraham Blum

10. Published 30 September 2014
Phenotyping novel stay-green traits to capture genetic variation in senescence dynamics

John T. Christopher, Mathieu Veyradier, Andrew K. Borrell, Greg Harvey, Susan Fletcher and Karine Chenu

11. Published 30 September 2014
Quantitative trait locus mapping of the transpiration ratio related to preflowering drought tolerance in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)

Mohankumar H. Kapanigowda, William A. Payne, William L. Rooney, John E. Mullet and Maria Balota

12. Published 30 September 2014
Partial root zone drying exerts different physiological responses on field-grown grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Monastrell) in comparison to regulated deficit irrigation

Pascual Romero, Juan Gabriel Pérez-Pérez, Francisco M. del Amor, Adrián Martinez-Cutillas, Ian C. Dodd and Pablo Botía

13. Published 14 August 2014
When smaller is better: leaf hydraulic conductance and drought vulnerability correlate to leaf size and venation density across four Coffea arabica genotypes

Andrea Nardini, Eele Õunapuu-Pikas and Tadeja Savi

14. Published 30 September 2014
Mucilage exudation facilitates root water uptake in dry soils

Mutez A. Ahmed, Eva Kroener, Maire Holz, Mohsen Zarebanadkouki and Andrea Carminati

15. Published 30 September 2014
Physiological basis of salt stress tolerance in rice expressing the antiapoptotic gene SfIAP

Thi My Linh Hoang, Brett Williams, Harjeet Khanna, James Dale and Sagadevan G. Mundree

16. Published 30 September 2014
Genotypic differences in deep water extraction associated with drought tolerance in wheat

Eric S. Ober, Peter Werner, Edward Flatman, William J. Angus, Peter Jack, Lucy Smith-Reeve and Chris Tapsell

17. Published 12 March 2015
Image based phenotyping during winter: a powerful tool to assess wheat genetic variation in growth response to temperature

Christoph Grieder, Andreas Hund and Achim Walter

18. Published 11 December 2014
Suppression of starch synthesis in rice stems splays tiller angle due to gravitropic insensitivity but does not affect yield

Masaki Okamura, Tatsuro Hirose, Yoichi Hashida, Ryu Ohsugi and Naohiro Aoki

19. Published 13 February 2015
Auxin-modulated root growth inhibition in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings with ammonium as the sole nitrogen source

Huaiyu Yang, Jenny von der Fecht-Bartenbach, Ji?í Friml, Jan U. Lohmann, Benjamin Neuhäuser and Uwe Ludewig

20. Published 30 September 2014
Modelling the effect of plant water use traits on yield and stay-green expression in sorghum

Jana Kholová, Tharanya Murugesan, Sivasakthi Kaliamoorthy, Srikanth Malayee, Rekha Baddam, Graeme L. Hammer, Greg McLean, Santosh Deshpande, C. Thomas Hash, Peter Q. Craufurd and Vincent Vadez

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