Post-anthesis development of inferior and superior spikelets in rice in relation to abscisic acid and ethylene

Jianchang Yang, Jianhua ZHANG*, Zhiqing Wang, Kai Liu, Peng Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

203 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the interaction between abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene may be involved in mediating the post-anthesis development of spikelets in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Two rice genotypes were field-grown, and the changes of ABA, ethylene, and 1-aminocylopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) levels in spikelets during grain filling and their relationships with endosperm-division and grain-filling rates were investigated. The results showed that earlier-flowering superior spikelets exerted dominance over later-flowering inferior spikelets in endosperm cell-division and grain-filling rates. The two genotypes behaved the same. Later-flowering spikelets had higher levels of ethylene and ACC than earlier-flowering spikelets. The ethylene evolution rate was significantly and negatively correlated with the cell division and grain filling rates. By contrast to ethylene, later-flowering spikelets contained a lower ABA content/concentration and showed a low content ratio of ABA to ACC than earlier-flowering ones. The cell-division and grain-filling rates were significantly and positively correlated with both ABA contents and the ratio of ABA to ACC. Application of cobalt ion (inhibitor of ethylene synthesis) or ABA at an early grain-filling stage significantly increased endosperm cell division rate and cell number, grain-filling rate, and grain weight of inferior spikelets. Application of ethephon (an ethylene-releasing agent) or fluridone (an inhibitor of carotenoid synthesis) had the opposite effect. The results suggest that antagonistic interactions between ABA and ethylene mediate endosperm cell-division and grain-filling in rice. A higher ratio of ABA to ethylene in rice spikelets is required to maintain a faster grain-filling rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • 1-aminocylopropane-1-carboxylic acid
  • Abscisic acid
  • Endosperm cell
  • Ethylene
  • Grain filling
  • Inferior spikelets
  • Rice
  • Superior spikelets


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