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

Genotypic Variation in Carbon Isotope Discrimination and Transpiration Efficiency in Wheat. Leaf Gas Exchange and Whole Plant Studies

AG Condon, GD Farquhar and RA Richards

Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 17(1) 9 - 22
Published: 1990


The relationship between carbon isotope discrimination, Δ, measured in plant dry matter and the ratio of intercellular to atmospheric partial pressures of CO2, pi/pa, in leaves was examined in two glasshouse experiments using 14 wheat genotypes selected on the basis of variation in Δ of dry matter. Genotypic variation in Δ was similar in both experiments, with an average range of 1.8 x 10-3. Variation in pi/pa was significant but the range in pi/pa was relatively small, averaging 0.075. In both experiments, Δ measured in dry matter and pi/pa measured in flag leaves were positively correlated. Variation among genotypes in pi/pa was attributed, approximately equally, to variation in leaf conductance and in photosynthetic capacity.

The relationship between plant transpiration efficiency, W* (the amount of above-ground dry matter produced per unit water transpired) and ¿ was also examined. There was a negative correlation between W * and Δ; under well watered conditions and under gradually increasing terminal water stress. The relationship between W* of stressed plants and Δ measured in well watered plants was also negative.

These results indicate that genotypic variation in Δ measured in dry matter should provide a reasonable measure of genotypic variation in long-term mean leaf pi/pa in wheat. Further, selection for improved plant transpiration efficiency in wheat under both well watered and terminally water- stressed conditions should be possible based on Δ measured in well watered plants. The extent to which such selection will be effective in improving transpiration efficiency at the field canopy level may depend on the influence of boundary layer resistance on transpirationsal water loss. Under well watered conditions and at full canopy closure, the influence of boundary layer resistance on canopy water loss may be relatively large and stomatal control of water loss may be limited. Under water stress, stomatal control of canopy water loss will be greater.

© CSIRO 1990

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