This study tested the hypothesis that a controlled water deficit during grain filling of wheat (Triticum aestivum) could accelerate grain-filling rate through regulating the key enzymes involved in Suc-to-starch pathway in the grains. Two high lodging-resistant wheat cultivars were field grown. Well-watered and water-deficit (WD) treatments were imposed from 9 DPA until maturity. The WD promoted the reallocation of prefixed 14C from the stems to grains, shortened the grain-filling period, and increased grain-filling rate or starch accumulation rate (SAR) in the grains. Activities of Sue synthase (SuSase), soluble starch synthase (SSS), and starch branching enzyme (SBE) in the grains were substantially enhanced by WD and positively correlated with the SAR. ADP Glc pyrophosphorylase activity was also enhanced in WD grains initially and correlated with SAR with a smaller coefficient. Activities of granule-bound starch synthase and soluble and insoluble acid invertase in the grains were less affected by WD. Abscisic acid (ABA) content in the grains was remarkably enhanced by WD and very significantly correlated with activities of SuSase, SSS, and SBE. Application of ABA on well-watered plants showed similar results as those by WD. Spraying with fluridone, an ABA synthesis inhibitor, had the opposite effect. The results suggest that increased grain-filling rate is mainly attributed to the enhanced sink activity by regulating key enzymes involved in Suc-to-starch conversion, especially SuSase, SSS, and SBE, in wheat grains when subjected to a mild water deficit during grain filling, and ABA plays a vital role in the regulation of this process.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Plant Science