Main content area

Comparative response to drought in primitive and modern wheat: a cue on domestication

Lv, Guang-Chao, Cheng, Zheng-Guo, Li, Feng-Min, Akram, Nudrat Aisha, Xiong, You-Cai
Planta 2019 v.250 no.2 pp. 629-642
Triticum, aboveground biomass, allometry, diploidy, domestication, drought, drying, energy metabolism, genotype, leaf area, leaves, models, pot culture, soil, source-sink relationships, tetraploidy, wheat
MAIN CONCLUSION: Primitive wheat follows an opposite metabolic law from modern wheat with regard to leaf biomass/reproductive growth vs above-ground biomass that is under the regulation of non-hydraulic root signals and that influences resource acquisition and utilization. Non-hydraulic root signals (nHRS) are so far affirmed as a unique positive response to drying soil in wheat, and may imply huge differences in energy metabolism and source–sink relationships between primitive and modern wheat species. Using a pot-culture split-root technique to induce nHRS, four primitive wheat genotypes (two diploids and two tetraploids) and four modern wheat ones (released from different breeding decades) were compared to address the above issue. The nHRS was continuously induced in drying soil, ensuring the operation of energy metabolism under the influence of nHRS. We found that primitive wheat followed an opposite size-dependent allometric pattern (logy = αlogx + logβ) in comparison with modern wheat. The relationships between ear biomass (y-axis) vs above-ground biomass (x-axis), and between reproductive biomass (y-axis) and vegetative (x-axis) biomass fell into a typical allometric pattern in primitive wheat (α > 1), and the nHRS significantly increased α (P < 0.01). However, in modern wheat, they turned to be in an isometric pattern (α ≈ 1). Regardless of nHRS, either leaf (i.e., metabolic rate) or stem biomass generally exhibited an isometric relationship with above-ground biomass in primitive wheat (α ≈ 1), while in modern wheat they fell into an allometric pattern (α > 1). Allometric scaling of specific leaf area (SLA) or biomass density showed superior capabilities of resource acquisition and utilization in modern wheat over primitive ones. We therefore proposed a generalized model to reveal how modern wheat possesses the pronounced population yield advantage over primitive wheat, and its implications on wheat domestication.