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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 30(11)

High temperature and water deficit may reduce seed number in field pea purely by decreasing plant growth rate

Lydie Guilioni, Jacques Wéry and Jérémie Lecoeur

Functional Plant Biology 30(11) 1151 - 1164
Published: 25 November 2003


Seed number, the most variable yield component of legumes is strongly affected by heat stress (HS) and water deficit (WD). The objective of this paper is to investigate whether HS and WD reduced seed number in field pea through their negative effects on biomass production rather than by specific effects on the developing reproductive organs. Several field and glasshouse experiments were carried out in southern France, in which HS and / or WD of various intensities, durations and positions in the plant lifecycle were imposed on several pea cultivars. WD and HS reduced seed number, in an intensity-dependent manner. They also changed the distribution of seeds along the stem. Plants subjected to WD and mild HS had more seeds on the basal phytomers than did control plants, making it possible to exclude direct effects of stress on seed development. In contrast, severe HS resulted in the immediate abortion of reproductive organs. WD and HS also decreased net photosynthesis (Pn), but only during the period of constraint. Quantitative relationships between Pn and soil water status and between Pn and leaf temperature were established. Nevertheless, in all cases there was a single linear relationship between final seed number and plant growth rate during the critical period for seed set (from the beginning of flowering to the beginning of seed fill for the last seed-bearing phytomer). This reflects the reproductive plasticity of pea, which adjusts the number of reproductive sinks in an apparent balance with assimilate availability in the plant.

Keywords: aerial biomass, heat stress, net photosynthesis, Pisum sativum L., seed number, water stress.

Full text doi:10.1071/FP03105

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