Floret development and spike fertility in wheat: Differences between cultivars of contrasting yield potential and their sensitivity to photoperiod and soil N
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In a previous paper (Field Crops Res. 203, 114-127), we showed that the difference in yield potential between a contemporary and a traditional cultivar was due to differences in fruiting efficiency, likely derived from differences in spike fertility (fertile florets per spike) while having similar spike dry weights at anthesis. In this study, we determined the mechanistic bases of these genotypic differences in spike fertility analysing the initiation of all floret primordia per spike (up to 8), the maximum number of florets initiated per spikelet, and the associated floret developmental rates and their fate to become fertile florets under contrasting photoperiod (natural vs extended) and nitrogen availability (50 or 200 kg N ha−1) during the stem elongation phase. Under potential growing conditions (natural photoperiod, high nitrogen availability), the contemporary cultivar owed its higher spike fertility to the improved rate of floret development, which mainly determined an improved level of floret primordia survival to produce fertile florets. The sensitivity of the floret developmental patterns to faster development due to exposure to an extended photoperiod and, to a larger extent, a reduction in N availability was similar for both cultivars, providing a basis for the consistent differences in spike fertility across a range of environments. The response again determined a main effect through increasing floret mortality reducing therefore the level of fertile florets per spikelet in these conditions.
Is part ofField Crops Research, 2020, vol. 256, p. 107908
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