Physiological responses of spring rapeseed (Brassica napus) to red/far-red ratios and irradiance during pre- and post-flowering stages



Early shade signals promote the shade avoidance syndrome (SAS) which causes, among others, petiole and shoot elongation and upward leaf position. In spite of its relevance, these photomorphogenic responses have not been deeply studied in rapeseed (Brassica napus). In contrast to other crops like maize and wheat, rapeseed has a complex developmental phenotypic pattern as it evolves from an initial rosette to the main stem elongation and an indeterminate growth of floral raceme. In this work, we analyzed (1) morphological and physiological responses at individual level due to low red/far-red (R/FR) ratio during plant development, and (2) changes in biomass allocation, grain yield and composition at crop level in response to high R/FR ratio and low irradiance in two modern spring rapeseed genotypes. We carried out pot and field experiments modifying R/FR ratios and irradiance at vegetative or reproductive stages. In pot experiments, low R/FR ratio increased the petiole and lamina length, upward leaf position and also accelerated leaf senescence. Furthermore, low R/FR ratio reduced main floral raceme and increased floral branching with higher remobilization of soluble carbohydrates from the stems. In field experiments, low irradiance during post-flowering reduced grain yield, harvest index and grain oil content, and high R/FR ratio reaching the crop partially alleviated such effects. We conclude that photomorphogenic signals are integrated early during the vegetative growth, and irradiance has stronger effects than R/FR signals at rapeseed crop level.