Wheat productivity can be increased by increasing kernel size, which is related to ovary size. It is not known whether environmental factors that affect kernel size may also affect ovary size, thus maintaining the kernel size-ovary size correlation. Additionally, it is not known whether variations in ovary size in wheat depend on cell size, cell number, or both.
In an article recently published in Crop Science, researchers measured ovary size and the cell size and number of the equatorial cross-sectional areas of the ovary wall in two wheat cultivars with very different kernel size (Bora, large kernels, and Bologna, small kernels). Plants were grown at low and high nitrogen availability (0 and 240 kg ha–1) and at low and high plant density (200 and 650 seeds m–2).
The variation in ovary wall size across all data pooled came out related to cell number and not to the cell size, which did not vary significantly with cultivar and field practices. Cell size in the ovary wall showed an upper limit across all treatments, which decreased with increasing cell number. These findings may be useful for breeding programs and field practices aimed at increasing kernel size and yield.
Adapted from Reale, L., A. Rosati, E. Tedeschini, V. Ferri, M. Cerri, S. Ghitarrini, V. Timorato, B. E. Ayano, O. Porfiri, G. Frenguelli, F. Ferranti, and P. Benincasa. 2017. Ovary size in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is related to cell number. Crop Sci. 57. View the full article online at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.2135/cropsci2016.06.0511