Identification of Differentially Senescing Mutants of Wheat and Impacts on Yield, Biomass and Nitrogen Partitioning

Authors


Tel: +44 1582 763 133 extn 2597; Fax: +44 1582 763 010; E-mail: malcolm.hawkesford@rothamsted.ac.uk

Abstract

Increasing photosynthetic capacity by extending canopy longevity during grain filling using slow senescing stay-green genotypes is a possible means to improve yield in wheat. Ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutated wheat lines (Triticum aestivum L. cv. Paragon) were screened for fast and slow canopy senescence to investigate the impact on yield and nitrogen partitioning. Stay-green and fast-senescing lines with similar anthesis dates were characterised in detail. Delayed senescence was only apparent at higher nitrogen supply with low nitrogen supply enhancing the rate of senescence in all lines. In the stay-green line 3 (SG3), on a whole plant basis, tiller and seed number increased whilst thousand grain weight (TGW) decreased; although a greater N uptake was observed in the main tiller, yield was not affected. In fast-senescing line 2 (FS2), yield decreased, principally as a result of decreased TGW. Analysis of N-partitioning in the main stem indicated that although the slow-senescing line had lower biomass and consequently less nitrogen in all plant parts, the proportion of biomass and nitrogen in the flag leaf was greater at anthesis compared to the other lines; this contributed to the grain N and yield of the slow-senescing line at maturity in both the main tiller and in the whole plant. A field trial confirmed senescence patterns of the two lines, and the negative impact on yield for FS2 and a positive impact for SG3 at low N only. The lack of increased yield in the slow-senescing line was likely due to decreased biomass and additionally a possible sink limitation.

Ancillary