Does higher yield potential improve barley performance in Mediterranean conditions? A case study.

Book Title: NA
Year Published: 2005
Month Published: NA
Author: Tambussi, E. A. ; Nogués, S. ; Ferrio, P. ; Voltas, J. ; Araus, J. L.
Book Group Author: NA

Barley is one of the most widely cultivated crops in rainfed areas of the Mediterranean, where drought is the main factor that limits yield. Knowledge of the physiological traits responsible for adaptation of barley cultivars to Mediterranean environments may be relevant for future breeding strategies. Yield potential versus drought tolerance is an open debate. Here, we studied two barley cultivars (Graphic and Kym), of similar time to anthesis and crop duration, that are widely cultivated in the western Mediterranean. Grain yield was evaluated in 41 field trials and ranged (averaged for the 16-32 cultivars assayed in each trial) from 0.7 to 9.1 Mg ha-1. Yield components and carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) of grains were analysed in another two trials. Graphic production was greater than Kym in all conditions. This greater yield was sustained mainly by higher number of ears per unit ground area, which may be attributable to higher growth potential during tillering. Moreover, Graphic showed greater Δ13C of kernels, indicating improved water status even at the end of the crop cycle. To examine differences in early growth, the two cultivars were grown in optimal conditions and then photosynthetic activity and biomass analysed at the end of tillering. Graphic showed greater above-ground and root biomass as well as total leaf area per plant and per tiller than Kym, and also tended to have higher number of tillers per plant, but its shoot-to-root biomass ratio was lower. Nitrogen content per unit leaf area was correlated negatively with plant and with tiller leaf area and positively with the shoot-to-root biomass ratio. Photosynthetic rate per unit leaf area was lower in Graphic and positively related to a lower nitrogen content, whereas stomatal limitation of photosynthesis and water use efficiency was similar in the two cultivars. Ribulose 1,5-biphosphate regeneration capacity contributed to the lower photosynthetic rate of Graphic. Moreover, quantum yield of photosystem II electron transport was also lower in Graphic than Kym, which suggests that mechanisms other than leaf structure also contributed to the higher photosynthetic capacity of the former. Nevertheless, as a result of differences in leaf area, total plant photosynthesis was greater in Graphic. The results indicate that the higher yield of Graphic under a wide range of Mediterranean conditions may be sustained by increased plant growth and total photosynthesis during tillering, although the photosynthetic capacity per unit leaf area is lower than that of Kym. Graphic has a more extensive root system than Kym, subsequently improving its water status in later stages of the crop cycle. Nitrogen content per unit leaf area is a good indicator of the growth and photosynthetic activity of barley plants in the early stages of the crop cycle.

Pages: 149 - 160
Volume: 91
Number: 2/3
Journal: Field Crops Research
Journal ISO: NA
Organization: NA
Publisher: NA
ISSN: 0378-4290

barley, carbon, crop yield, cultivars, electron transfer,growth, isotopes, kernels, leaf area, nitrogen content, photosynthesis,photosystem II, plant water relations, ribulose 1,5-diphosphate, rootshoot ratio, root systems, roots, stomata, tillers, water useefficiency, yield components, Mediterranean Region, Hordeum vulgare,Hordeum, Poaceae, Cyperales, monocotyledons, angiosperms, Spermatophyta,plants, eukaryotes, carbon assimilation, carbon dioxide fixation,cultivated varieties, electron flow, electron transport, Mediterraneancountries, Field Crops (FF005) (New March 2000), Plant Breeding andGenetics (FF020), Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (FF060), Plant WaterRelations (FF062), Plant Production (FF100)

Source: EBSCO
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