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Wheat ear carbon assimilation and nitrogen remobilization contribute significantly to grain yield

Zhou, Bangwei, Serret, Maria Dolores, Elazab, Abdelhalim, Bort Pie, Jordi, Araus, José Luis, Aranjuelo, Iker, Sanz‐Sáez, Álvaro
Journal of integrative plant biology 2016 v.58 no.11 pp. 914-926
absorption, carbon, carbon dioxide fixation, filling period, flowering, gas exchange, genotype, grain yield, isotopes, leaves, nitrogen, nutrient solutions, organic matter, photosynthesis, ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase, seeds, sowing, wheat
The role of wheat ears as a source of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) in the grain filling process has barely been studied. To resolve this question, five wheat genotypes were labeled with ¹⁵N‐enriched nutrient solution. N remobilization and absorption were estimated via the nitrogen isotope composition of total organic matter and Rubisco. Gas exchange analyses showed that ear photosynthesis contributed substantially to grain filling in spite of the great loss of C due to respiration. Of the total kernel N, 64.7% was derived from the N acquired between sowing and anthesis, while the remaining 35.3% was derived from the N acquired between anthesis and maturity. In addition, 1.87 times more N was remobilized to the developing kernel from the ear than from the flag leaf. The higher yielding genotypes showed an increased N remobilization to the kernel compared to the lower yielding genotypes. In addition, the higher yielding genotypes remobilized more N from the ears to the kernel than the lower yielding genotypes, while the lower yielding genotypes remobilized more N from the flag leaf to the kernel. Therefore, the ears contribute significantly toward fulfilling C and N demands during grain filling.