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

Root traits and cellular level tolerance hold the key in maintaining higher spikelet fertility of rice under water limited conditions

Bheemanahalli R. Raju A , Beerasandra R. Narayanaswamy A , Malagondanahalli V. Mohankumar A , Kambalimath K. Sumanth A , Mavinahalli P. Rajanna B , Basavaiah Mohanraju A , Makarla Udayakumar A and Madavalam S. Sheshshayee A C

A Department of Crop Physiology, University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bengaluru-560 065, India.

B Zonal Agricultural Research Station, VC Farm, Mandya-571 405, India.

C Corresponding author. Email: msheshshayee@hotmail.com

Functional Plant Biology 41(9) 930-939 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP13291
Submitted: 10 October 2013  Accepted: 8 March 2014   Published: 7 May 2014

Abstract

Reduced spikelet fertility appears to be one of the major factors responsible for the decreased rice grain yield when cultivated under semi irrigated aerobic condition. We demonstrate that genotypes with better root systems coupled with higher cellular level tolerance (CLT) can significantly improve spikelet fertility under semi-irrigated aerobic condition in the field. A set of 20 contrasting rice accessions differing in root traits and CLT with significant molecular diversity were subjected to specific soil moisture regimes during a period between five days before and 10 days after anthesis. Lowest spikelet fertility was observed among the plants grown under water limited (WL) conditions followed by the plants grown aerobically in field conditions (AF). Deep rooted genotypes generally maintained higher spikelet fertility under both WL and AF conditions. Furthermore, genotypes that had high roots biomass as well as high CLT recorded the lowest reduction in spikelet fertility under WL and AF compared with the low root and low CLT genotype. This study emphasised the relevance of combining water acquisition and CLT for improving field level tolerance of rice to water limitation. Such genotypes recorded significantly higher grain yield under stress as well as well watered conditions. The study led to the identification of promising trait donor genotypes which can be exploited in breeding to develop superior trait pyramided cultivars suitable for semi irrigated aerobic cultivation.

Additional keywords: CLT, rice, root traits, semi irrigated aerobic cultivation, spikelet fertility.


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