Stomatal behaviour under terminal drought affects post-anthesis water use in wheat

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Post-anthesis water use is important for grain yield in wheat under drought because this water is immediately used for grain filling. The aim of this study was to determine whether root capacity for water uptake from deeper layers in the soil profile differed between two genotypes with contrasting stomatal behaviour under terminal drought. The wheat cultivar Drysdale and the breeding line IGW-3262 were grown in 1m deep pots in a glasshouse under well-watered conditions until anthesis, when three watering treatments were imposed: (i) watering maintained at 90% pot soil water capacity (WW), (ii) watering withheld but supplementary watering supplied to the bottom 30cm of the pot to keep this layer of the soil profile wet until physiological maturity (WB) and (iii) watering completely withheld (WS). Stomatal conductance, post-anthesis water use and water use efficiency, and grain yield were measured. Post-anthesis water use in Drysdale was similar in the WB and WW treatments, while in IGW-3262 it was 30% less in the WB treatment than in the WW treatment. In the WB treatment as the top soil dried, stomatal closure was faster in IGW-3262 than in Drysdale, which may have affected the capacity of roots to uptake available water at depth. The reduction in post-anthesis water use in IGW-3262 resulted in a decline in grain yield.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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