A physiological framework to explain genetic and environmental regulation of tillering in sorghum
- Tillering determines the plant size of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and an understanding of its regulation is important to match genotypes to prevalent growing conditions in target production environments. The aim of this study was to determine the physiological and environmental regulation of variability in tillering among sorghum genotypes, and to develop a framework for this regulation.
- Diverse sorghum genotypes were grown in three experiments with contrasting temperature, radiation and plant density to create variation in tillering. Data on phenology, tillering, and leaf and plant size were collected. A carbohydrate supply/demand (S/D) index that incorporated environmental and genotypic parameters was developed to represent the effects of assimilate availability on tillering. Genotypic differences in tillering not explained by this index were defined as propensity to tiller (PTT) and probably represented hormonal effects.
- Genotypic variation in tillering was associated with differences in leaf width, stem diameter and PTT. The S/D index captured most of the environmental effects on tillering and PTT most of the genotypic effects.
- A framework that captures genetic and environmental regulation of tillering through assimilate availability and PTT was developed, and provides a basis for the development of a model that connects genetic control of tillering to its phenotypic consequences.