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Stem growth during seed production in soybean: Implications for pod yield

Alerding, Anne B., Waalkes, Matthew R., Hill, Emily S., Rowe, Richard A., Parsons, Garrett
Journal of crop improvement 2018 v.32 no.2 pp. 156-174
Glycine max, biomass, carbon, cell walls, cultivars, filling period, fruits, greenhouses, reproductive performance, secondary phloem, seeds, soybeans, stem elongation, stems
In soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), stems remain a competitive carbon resource sink during reproduction. Radial stem expansion after termination of axial stem growth requires resources to produce secondary cell walls in secondary vascular tissues. The impact of both the timing and extent of secondary growth in stems on fruit production in soybean is unknown. We hypothesized that cultivars gaining higher amounts of secondary vascular tissues during seed filling would experience lower reproductive output. Four determinate cultivars were grown in a greenhouse and harvested at the beginning and ending of seed filling for biomass determination and tissue composition measurement (ImageJ-Fiji). Cultivar ‘Hanover’ entered seed filling with the lowest amount of secondary phloem. It produced the largest increase in radial stem expansion, largest seeds, and fewest undeveloped (aborted) fruits. The physiological role of active secondary phloem production in stems for seed production in soybean reproduction is unclear. We reject our initial hypothesis and propose that high fitness may require the concomitant growth of vegetative and reproductive organs.