Quantifying the relationship between temperature regulation in the ear and floret development stage in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under heat and drought stress
Steinmeyer, F.T.; Lukac, A.; Reynolds, M.P.; Jones, H.E.
Thermal imaging is a valuable tool for the clarification of gas exchange dynamics between a plant and its environment. The presence of stomata in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) glumes and awns offers an opportunity to assess the photosynthetic activity of ears up to and during flowering. Knowledge of the spatial and temporal thermodynamics of the wheat ear may provide insight into interactions between floret developmental stage (FDS), temperature depression (TD) and ambient environment, with potential to use these as high-throughput screening tools for breeders. A controlled environment study was conducted using six spring wheat genotypes of the elite recombinant inbred line Seri–Babax. Average ear temperature was recorded using a hand-held infrared camera and gas exchange was measured by enclosing ears in a custom-built cuvette. FDS was monitored and recorded daily throughout the study. Plants were grown in pots and exposed to a combination of two temperature and two water regimes. In the studied wheat lines, TD varied from 0.1°C to 0.6°C according to the level of stress imposed. The results indicated that TD does not occur at FDS F3, the peak of active flowering, but during the stages before pollen release and stigma maturity (F1–F2). These findings suggest that ear temperature during the early stages of anthesis, before pollen release and full extension of the stigma, are likely to be the most relevant for identifying heat stress tolerant genotypes.