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Crop Science Abstract -

Competition between Nitrogen Accumulation and Grain Growth for Carbohydrates during Grain Filling of Wheat


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 34 No. 2, p. 440-446
    Received: Apr 28, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. M. Bänziger,
  2. B. Feil and
  3. P. Stamp 
  1. Int. Maize and Wheat Improvement Ctr. (CIMMYT), Apdo. Postal 6-641, 06600, México D.F., Mexico



It has been hypothesized that N accumulation and carbohydrate synthesis compete for energy and carbon skeletons during the reproductive growth phase of small grain cereals. This study was conducted to determine whether an increased N accumulation during grain rifling of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) may reduce carbohydrate availability for grain formation. In a 2-yr field experiment, four spring wheat genotypes, grown under three early N regimes, were supplied with 0, 50, and 100 kg N ha−1 at heading. The effect of late N application on photosynthesis rate (only in 1991), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), grain growth and yield was recorded. N application at heading reduced WSC content of the shoot at anthesis by 8.5 g WSC per gram of accumulated N. During grain filling, a steady regeneration of WSC reserves in the stem occurred, though N accumulation was still enhanced by late application of N. By 320 degree days (d°) after anthesis, differences in stem WSC reserves between late N levels had disappeared. Measurements of photosynthesis rate and leaf area duration indicated that photosynthetic capacity of the canopy was increased by application of late N. Apart from the detrimental effect of late tillers which were induced by late N application, late N application generally resulted in higher grain yields. Since N compounds can be invested in light interception (photosynthesis rate, leaf area duration) before they are translocated to the grains, the consumption of energy and carbon skeletons for assimilating N cannot be considered alone as reducing carbohydrate availability for grain formation.

Contribution from the Inst. of Plant Sci., Swiss Federal Inst. of Techn. ETH, Universitätstrasse 2, 8092 Zϋrich, Switzerland.

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Copyright © 1994. Crop Science Society of America, Inc.Copyright © 1994 by the Crop Science Society of America, Inc.