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Optimizing dry-matter partitioning for increased spike growth, grain number and harvest index in spring wheat

Rivera-Amado, Carolina; Trujillo-Negrellos ⁠, Eliseo; Molero, Gemma; Reynolds, Matthew P.; Sylvester-Bradley, Roger; Foulkes, M. John


Carolina Rivera-Amado

Eliseo Trujillo-Negrellos ⁠

Gemma Molero

Matthew P. Reynolds

Roger Sylvester-Bradley

M. John Foulkes


Improving biomass is an important goal for future genetic gains in yield potential in wheat, but it will also be crucial to identify physiological traits to maximize harvest index (HI, proportion of aboveground biomass in grain). Increased grain partitioning will require increased dry-matter (DM) partitioning to the spikes at anthesis as well as enhanced fruiting efficiency (FE, grains per g spike dry matter at anthesis or chaff dry matter at harvest), whilst optimizing the partitioning amongst the non-grain components to maintain post-anthesis photosynthetic capacity and soluble carbohydrate translocation. The objectives of this study were to: i) quantify genetic variation in DM partitioning among plant organs at anthesis (GS65) + 7days and associations with spike growth and FE and ii) identify optimized partitioning traits associated with enhanced HI and grain yield, in CIMMYT elite spring wheat backgrounds. Two field experiments were conducted in 2011-12 and 2012-13 testing 26 CIMMYT spring wheat cultivars in NW Mexico in irrigated conditions in which DM partitioning was assessed in plant organs at anthesis + 7 days, and within-spike (glume, palea, lemma, rachis and awn) partitioning was assessed at harvest. Grain yield, yield components, HI and FE were assessed at harvest. Our results identified new traits for HI (decreased DM partitioning to stem internodes 2 (top down, peduncle-1) and 3, and decreased rachis DM partitioning and rachis specific weight (rachis DM per rachis unit length) and increased lemma DM partitioning), potentially allowing breeders to maximize the exploitation of enhanced carbon assimilation for grain biomass. Further work will focus on understanding the role of soluble carbohydrate re-translocation in these relationships and establishing high-throughput and cost-effective phenotyping methods for these traits for deployment in breeding.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 25, 2019
Print ISSN 0378-4290
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Publisher URL

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