Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Response of floret fertility and individual grain weight of wheat to high temperature stress: sensitive stages and thresholds for temperature and duration

P. V. Vara Prasad A B and Maduraimuthu Djanaguiraman A

A Department of Agronomy, 2004 Throckmorton Plant Science Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email: vara@ksu.edu

Functional Plant Biology 41(12) 1261-1269 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP14061
Submitted: 23 February 2014  Accepted: 31 May 2014   Published: 19 August 2014

Abstract

Short episodes of high temperature (HT) stress during reproductive stages of crop development cause significant yield losses in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Wheat plants of cultivar Chinese Spring were grown at various temperature regimes at several stages of reproductive development for different durations. The objectives of this research were to (i) identify the stage(s) most sensitive to HT stress during reproductive development, and (ii) determine threshold temperature and duration of HT stress that decrease floret fertility and individual grain weight. Two periods (first at 8–6 days before anthesis and second at 2–0 days before anthesis) during reproductive development were most sensitive to short episodes (2 or 5 days) of HT stress, causing maximum decreases in floret fertility. Short episodes (5 days) of mean daily temperatures >24°C imposed at start of heading quadratically decreased floret fertility, with the values reaching close to 0% around mean daily temperature of 35°C; and floret fertility and individual grain weight decreased linearly with increasing duration (in the range from 2 to 30 days) of HT stress when imposed at start of heading or start of grain filling respectively. HT stress caused morphological abnormalities in pollen, stigma and style. The combination of lower floret fertility (leading to decreased grain numbers) and decreased individual grain weights can cause significant decreases in grain yield. Further research to search for genetic variability for these traits and use them in breeding programs to develop tolerant genotypes that can provide yield stability under current and future climates is warranted.

Additional keywords: abiotic stress, pollen, sensitive stage, sporogenesis, threshold, Triticum aestivum.


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