Pre-anthesis non-structural carbohydrate reserve in the stem enhances the sink strength of inferior spikelets during grain filling of rice

Jing Fu, Zuanhua Huang, Zhiqin Wang, Jianchnag Yang*, Jianhua ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sink strength plays an important role in grain filling of cereals but how it is related to the pre-anthesis non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) reserves is not clear. This study investigated if and how an increase in NSC reserves could enhance sink strength, and consequently improve grain filling of later-flowering inferior spikelets (in contrast to the earlier flowering superior spikelets) for rice varieties with large panicles. Two "super" rice varieties (the recently bred high-yielding rice) and two New Plant Type (NPT, named in IRRI for the extra-large panicle) rice lines were compared with two elite inbred varieties under field-grown conditions. Three nitrogen (N) treatments, applied at the stages of panicle initiation, spikelet differentiation or both, were adopted with no N application during the mid-season as control. Both super rice and NPT rice showed a greater yield capacity as a result of a larger panicle than the elite inbred rice. However, a lower percentage of filled grains limited the realization of higher yield potential in super rice and especially in NPT rice, due to their lower grain filling rate and the smaller grain weight of their inferior spikelets. The low grain filling rate and small grain weight of inferior spikelets are mainly attributed to a poor sink strength as a result of small sink size (small number of endosperm cells) and low sink activity, e.g. low activities of sucrose synthase (SuSase) and adenosine diphosphoglucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase). The amounts of NSC in the stem and NSC per spikelet at the heading time are significantly and positively correlated with sink strength (number of endosperm cells and activities of SuSase and AGPase), grain filling rate, and grain weight of inferior spikelets. Nitrogen application at the spikelet differentiation stage significantly increased, whereas N application at the panicle initiation or at both panicle initiation and spikelet differentiation stages, significantly reduced, NSC per spikelet at the heading time, sink strength, grain filling rate, and grain weight of inferior spikelets in super rice. The results suggest that pre-anthesis NSC reserves in the stem are closely associated with the sink strength during grain filling of rice, and N application at the spikelet differentiation stage would be a good practice to increase pre-anthesis NSC reserves, and consequently to enhance sink strength for rice varieties with large panicles, such as super rice varieties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-182
Number of pages13
JournalField Crops Research
Volume123
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2011

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Grain filling
  • Inferior spikelets
  • Non-structural carbohydrate
  • Sink strength
  • Source-sink relationship
  • Super rice (Oryza sativa L.)

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