Plant chlorophyll retention—staygreen—is considered a valuable trait under heat stress. Five experiments with the Seri/Babax wheat mapping population were sown in Mexico under hot-irrigated environments. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) during plant growth was measured regularly and modelled to capture the dynamics of plant greenness decay, including staygreen (Stg) at physiological maturity which was estimated by regression of NDVI during grainfilling. The rate of senescence, the percentage of plant greenness decay, and the area under the curve were also estimated based on NDVI measurements. While Stg and the best fitted curve were highly environment dependent, both traits showed strong (positive for Stg) correlations with yield, grainfilling rates, and extended grainfilling periods, while associations with kernel number and kernel weight were weak. Stg expression was largely dependent on rate of senescence which was related to the pattern of the greenness decay curve and the initial NDVI. QTL analyses revealed a total of 44 loci across environments linked to Stg and related traits, distributed across the genome, with the strongest and most repeatable effects detected on chromosomes 1B, 2A, 2B, 4A, 4B and 7D. Of these, some were common with regions controlling phenology but independent regions were also identified. The co-location of QTL for Stg and performance traits in this study confirms that the staygreen phenotype is a useful trait for productivity enhancement in hot-irrigated environments.
Tags: climate change
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