Jump to Main Content
Asynchronous flowering and within-plant flowering diversity in wheat and the implications for crop resilience to heat
- Lukac, Martin, Gooding, Michael J., Griffiths, Simon, Jones, Hannah E.
- Annals of botany 2012 v.109 no.4 pp. 843-850
- temporal variation, container-grown plants, male flowers, flowering, seeds, wheat, gene flow, climate change, florets, self-pollination, Triticum aestivum, dehiscence, stigma, pollen, seed set, crops, United Kingdom
- BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Self-pollination dominates in wheat, with a small level of out-crossing due to flowering asynchrony and male sterility. However, the timing and synchrony of male and female flowering in wheat is a crucial determinant of seed set and may be an important factor affecting gene flow and resilience to climate change. Here, a methodology is presented for assessing the timing and synchrony of flowering in wheat, Triticum aestivum. METHODS: From the onset of flowering until the end of anthesis, the anther and stigma activity of each floret was assessed on the first five developing ears in potted plants grown under ambient conditions and originating from ‘Paragon’ or ‘Spark-Rialto’ backgrounds. At harvest maturity, seed presence, size and weight was recorded for each floret scored. KEY RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The synchrony between pollen dehiscence and stigma collapse within a flower was dependent on its relative position in a spike and within a floret. Determined on the basis of synchrony within each flower, the level of pollination by pollen originating from other flowers reached approx. 30 % and did not change throughout the duration of flowering. A modelling exercise parameterized by flowering observations indicated that the temporal and spatial variability of anther activity within and between spikes may influence the relative resilience of wheat to sudden, extreme climatic events which has direct relevance to predicted future climate scenarios in the UK.