Shade Avoidance Influences Stress Tolerance in Maize

[ "Postdoctoral research associate, postdoctoral research associate, graduate student, Professor, and Professor, Department of Plant Agriculture, Crop Science Building, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road E., Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. Current address of first author: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Greenhouse and Crops Processing Centre, 2585 County Rd. 20, Harrow, ON N0R 1G0, Canada. Corresponding author's E-mail: "]
Weed Science (Impact Factor: 1.68). 07/2011; DOI: 10.1614/WS-D-10-00159.1

ABSTRACT Previous studies have suggested that the reduction in the root/shoot ratio that accompanies the shade avoidance response may reduce the tolerance of individuals to subsequent nutrient or moisture limitations. In this work, we examined the impact of the shade avoidance response on maize seedling growth and development and the response of these plants to a subsequent abiotic stress. Seedlings were grown in a field fertigation system under two light quality environments, ambient and a low red to far-red ratio, which were designed to simulate weed-free and weedy conditions, respectively. This system also enabled the controlled restriction of water and nutrients, which reduced the relative growth rate of the crop and created a secondary stress. Results of this study indicate that, while the shade avoidance response did reduce the root/shoot ratio in maize, this effect did not reduce plant tolerance to subsequent abiotic stress. Rather, the apparent additivity or synergism of shade avoidance and the secondary stressor on yield loss depended on whether the net effect of these two stressors was sufficiently large to shift the population toward the point where reproductive allometry was broken. Nomenclature: Maize, Zea mays L.

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    ABSTRACT: Environmental stresses, such as shading of the shoot, and drought and salinity of the soil, threaten plant yield and survival. Plants can alleviate the impact of these stresses through various modes of phenotypic plasticity. Here we review the current state of knowledge on the mechanisms that control plant developmental responses to shade, salt and drought stress. Plant hormones and cellular signaling pathways that control shoot branching and elongation responses to shade and root architecture modulation in response to drought and salinity are discussed. Since belowground stresses also result in changes aboveground and vice-versa, we subsequently outline how a wider palette of plant phenotypic traits is affected by the individual stresses. We argue for a research agenda that integrates multiple plant organs, responses and stresses. This will generate the scientific understanding needed for future crop improvement programs aiming at crops that can maintain yields under variable and sub-optimal conditions.
    Plant physiology 06/2014; · 7.39 Impact Factor
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