Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

How does temperature affect C and N allocation to the seeds during the seed-filling period in pea? Effect on seed nitrogen concentration

Annabelle Larmure A C , Christophe Salon B and Nathalie G. Munier-Jolain B

A ENESAD, Département Agronomie et Environnement, 26 bd Dr Petitjean, BP 87999, 21079 Dijon cedex, France.

B INRA, Unité de Génétique et d’Ecophysiologie des Légumineuses, 17 rue Sully, BP 86510, 21065 Dijon cedex, France.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 32(11) 1009-1017
Submitted: 20 June 2005  Accepted: 4 August 2005   Published: 28 October 2005


The effect of moderate temperature on seed N concentration during the seed-filling period was evaluated in pea (Pisum sativum L.) kept in growth cabinets and the relation between plant assimilate availability and the variation of seed N concentration with temperature was investigated. Seed N concentration of pea was significantly lowered when temperature during the seed-filling period decreased from a day / night temperature of 25 / 20°C to 15 / 10°C. Our results demonstrate that during the seed-filling period mechanisms linked with assimilate availability can modify seed N accumulation rate and / or seed-filling duration between 25 / 20°C and 15 / 10°C. At the lower temperature (15 / 10°C), an increased C availability resulting from an enhanced carbon fixation per degree-day allowed new competing vegetative sinks to grow as pea is an indeterminate plant. Consequently N availability to filling seeds was reduced. Because the rate of seed N accumulation per degree-day mainly depends on N availability to filling seeds, the rate of seed N accumulation was lower at the low temperature of our study (15 / 10°C) than at 25 / 20°C while seed growth rate per degree-day remains unaffected, consequently seed N concentration was reduced. Concomitantly, the increased C availability at the lower temperature prolonged the duration of the seed-filling period.

Keywords: Pisum sativum L., plant C and N assimilate availability, seed filling, seed N concentration, temperature.


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