Differential flag leaf and ear photosynthetic performance under elevated (CO2) conditions during grain filling period in durum wheat
Elevated concentrations of CO2 (CO2) in plants with C-3 photosynthesis metabolism, such as wheat, stimulate photosynthetic rates. However, photosynthesis tends to decrease as a function of exposure to high (CO2) due to down-regulation of the photosynthetic machinery, and this phenomenon is defined as photosynthetic acclimation. Considerable efforts are currently done to determine the effect of photosynthetic tissues, such us spike, in grain filling. There is good evidence that the contribution of ears to grain filling may be important not only under good agronomic conditions but also under high (CO2). The main objective of this study was to compare photoassimilate production and energy metabolism between flag leaves and glumes as part of ears of wheat (Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum cv. Amilcar) plants exposed to ambient [a(CO2)] and elevated [e(CO2)] (CO2) (400 and 700 mu mol mol(-1), respectively). Elevated CO2 had a differential effect on the responses of flag leaves and ears. The ears showed higher gross photosynthesis and respiration rates compared to the flag leaves. The higher ear carbohydrate content and respiration rates contribute to increase the grain dry mass. Our results support the concept that acclimation of photosynthesis to e(CO2) is driven by sugar accumulation, reduction in N concentrations and repression of genes related to photosynthesis, glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, and that these were more marked in glumes than leaves. Further, important differences are described on responsiveness of flag leaves and ears to e(CO2) on genes linked with carbon and nitrogen metabolism. These findings provide information about the impact of e(CO2) on ear development during the grain filling stage and are significant for understanding the effects of increasing (CO2) on crop yield.