Hormones in the grains in relation to sink strength and postanthesis development of spikelets in rice

Jianchang Yang*, Jianhua ZHANG, Zhiqin Wang, Qingsen Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

156 Citations (Scopus)


Inferior spikelets usually exhibit a slower grain filling rate and lower grain weight than superior spikelets in a rice (Oryza sativa L.) panicle. This study investigated whether the variations in grain filling between the two kinds of spikelets were attributed to their sink strength and whether the sink strength was regulated by the hormonal levels in the grains. Using two field-grown rice genotypes, the division rate of endosperm cells, hormonal levels in the grains, and grain weight of both superior and inferior spikelets were determined during the grain filling period. The results showed that superior spikelets had dominance over inferior spikelets in endosperm cell division rate and cell number, grain filling and grain weight. Changes in zeatin (Z) and zeatin riboside (ZR) contents paralleled and were very significantly correlated with the cell division rate and cell number. Cell division rate and the content of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) in the grains were also significantly correlated. Gibberellin (GAs; GA1 + GA 4) content of the grains was high but ABA levels were low at the early grain filling stage. ABA increased substantially during the linear phase of grain growth and was very significantly correlated with grain dry weight during this period. Application of kinetin at 2 through 6 days post anthesis (DPA) significantly increased cell number, while spraying ABA at 11 through 15 DPA significantly increased the grain filling rate. The results suggest that differences in sink strength are responsible for variations in grain filling between superior and inferior spikelets. Both cytokinins and IAA in the grains may mediate cell division in rice endosperm at early grain filling stages, and therefore regulate the sink size of the grain, whereas ABA content correlates with sink activity during the linear period of grain growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Growth Regulation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Abscisic acid
  • Cytokinins
  • Gibberellins
  • Indole-3-acetic acid
  • Rice (oryza sativa L.)
  • Sink strength


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