[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stay-green sorghum plants exhibit greener leaves and stems during the grain-filling period under water-limited conditions compared with their senescent counterparts, resulting in increased grain yield, grain mass, and lodging resistance. Stay-green has been mapped to a number of key chromosomal regions, including Stg1, Stg2, Stg3, and Stg4, but the functions of these individual quantitative trait loci (QTLs) remain unclear. The objective of this study was to show how positive effects of Stg QTLs on grain yield under drought can be explained as emergent consequences of their effects on temporal and spatial water-use patterns that result from changes in leaf-area dynamics. A set of four Stg near-isogenic lines (NILs) and their recurrent parent were grown in a range of field and semicontrolled experiments in southeast Queensland, Australia. These studies showed that the four Stg QTLs regulate canopy size by: (1) reducing tillering via increased size of lower leaves, (2) constraining the size of the upper leaves; and (3) in some cases, decreasing the number of leaves per culm. In addition, they variously affect leaf anatomy and root growth. The multiple pathways by which Stg QTLs modulate canopy development can result in considerable developmental plasticity. The reduction in canopy size associated with Stg QTLs reduced pre-flowering water demand, thereby increasing water availability during grain filling and, ultimately, grain yield. The generic physiological mechanisms underlying the stay-green trait suggest that similar Stg QTLs could enhance post-anthesis drought adaptation in other major cereals such as maize, wheat, and rice.
Journal of Experimental Botany 11/2014; · 5.79 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A QTL model for the genetic control of tillering in sorghum is proposed, presenting new opportunities for sorghum breeders to select germplasm with tillering characteristics appropriate for their target environments. Tillering in sorghum can be associated with either the carbon supply-demand (S/D) balance of the plant or an intrinsic propensity to tiller (PTT). Knowledge of the genetic control of tillering could assist breeders in selecting germplasm with tillering characteristics appropriate for their target environments. The aims of this study were to identify QTL for tillering and component traits associated with the S/D balance or PTT, to develop a framework model for the genetic control of tillering in sorghum. Four mapping populations were grown in a number of experiments in south east Queensland, Australia. The QTL analysis suggested that the contribution of traits associated with either the S/D balance or PTT to the genotypic differences in tillering differed among populations. Thirty-four tillering QTL were identified across the populations, of which 15 were novel to this study. Additionally, half of the tillering QTL co-located with QTL for component traits. A comparison of tillering QTL and candidate gene locations identified numerous coincident QTL and gene locations across populations, including the identification of common non-synonymous SNPs in the parental genotypes of two mapping populations in a sorghum homologue of MAX1, a gene involved in the control of tiller bud outgrowth through the production of strigolactones. Combined with a framework for crop physiological processes that underpin genotypic differences in tillering, the co-location of QTL for tillering and component traits and candidate genes allowed the development of a framework QTL model for the genetic control of tillering in sorghum.
TAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik. 08/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stay-green is an integrated drought adaptation trait characterized by a distinct green leaf phenotype during grain filling under terminal drought. We used sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), a repository of drought adaptation mechanisms, to elucidate the physiological and genetic mechanisms underpinning stay-green. Near-isogenic sorghum lines (cv RTx7000) were characterized in a series of field and managed-environment trials (seven experiments and 14 environments) to determine the influence of four individual stay-green (Stg1-4) quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on canopy development, water use and grain yield under post-anthesis drought. The Stg QTL decreased tillering and the size of upper leaves, which reduced canopy size at anthesis. This reduction in transpirational leaf area conserved soil water before anthesis for use during grain filling. Increased water uptake during grain filling of Stg near-isogenic lines (NILs) relative to RTx7000 resulted in higher post-anthesis biomass production, grain number and yield. Importantly, there was no consistent yield penalty associated with the Stg QTL in the irrigated control. These results establish a link between the role of the Stg QTL in modifying canopy development and the subsequent impact on crop water use patterns and grain yield under terminal drought.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tillering determines the plant size of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and an understanding of its regulation is important to match genotypes to prevalent growing conditions in target production environments. The aim of this study was to determine the physiological and environmental regulation of variability in tillering among sorghum genotypes, and to develop a framework for this regulation. Diverse sorghum genotypes were grown in three experiments with contrasting temperature, radiation and plant density to create variation in tillering. Data on phenology, tillering, and leaf and plant size were collected. A carbohydrate supply/demand (S/D) index that incorporated environmental and genotypic parameters was developed to represent the effects of assimilate availability on tillering. Genotypic differences in tillering not explained by this index were defined as propensity to tiller (PTT) and probably represented hormonal effects. Genotypic variation in tillering was associated with differences in leaf width, stem diameter and PTT. The S/D index captured most of the environmental effects on tillering and PTT most of the genotypic effects. A framework that captures genetic and environmental regulation of tillering through assimilate availability and PTT was developed, and provides a basis for the development of a model that connects genetic control of tillering to its phenotypic consequences.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Positive correlations between plant height and grain yield have been reported for sorghum. The introduction of stay-green in sorghum, and the associated reduction in lodging, has opened the possibility to exploit this positive association. The aim of this study was to analyse the direct effects of the dwarfing gene dw3 (and therefore plant height) on shoot biomass, grain yield, and yield components in pairs of 3-dwarf genotypes and their isogenic 2-dwarf tall mutants. Isogenic pairs with different genetic backgrounds were grown in three field experiments under nutrient and water non-limiting conditions. Tall mutants were significantly taller and produced more shoot and stem biomass than their shorter counterparts. Generally, tall types yielded more grain than short types, but significant interactions between experiment, genetic background and stature affected the consistency of the results. dw3 only affected grain size and not grain number. Increased grain mass of tall types was associated with significantly greater stem mass per grain at anthesis and greater shoot biomass per grain accumulated between anthesis and maturity. The increased biomass of tall plants was therefore important for increased grain yield under optimum conditions. Potential implications of increased biomass production for drought adaptation are discussed.
Field Crops Research 01/2013; 149(2):283-290. · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nodal root angle in sorghum influences vertical and horizontal root distribution in the soil profile and is thus relevant to drought adaptation. In this study, we report for the first time on the mapping of four QTL for nodal root angle (qRA) in sorghum, in addition to three QTL for root dry weight, two for shoot dry weight, and three for plant leaf area. Phenotyping was done at the six leaf stage for a mapping population (n = 141) developed by crossing two inbred sorghum lines with contrasting root angle. Nodal root angle QTL explained 58.2% of the phenotypic variance and were validated across a range of diverse inbred lines. Three of the four nodal root angle QTL showed homology to previously identified root angle QTL in rice and maize, whereas all four QTL co-located with previously identified QTL for stay-green in sorghum. A putative association between nodal root angle QTL and grain yield was identified through single marker analysis on field testing data from a subset of the mapping population grown in hybrid combination with three different tester lines. Furthermore, a putative association between nodal root angle QTL and stay-green was identified using data sets from selected sorghum nested association mapping populations segregating for root angle. The identification of nodal root angle QTL presents new opportunities for improving drought adaptation mechanisms via molecular breeding to manipulate a trait for which selection has previously been very difficult.
Theoretical and Applied Genetics 09/2011; 124(1):97-109. · 3.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The utility of crop growth and development models for investigating emergent behaviour of complex gene-to-phenotype interactions is limited if such models rely on algorithms that describe key aspects of crop growth and development too simply. While this approach has proven adequate for predicting crop responses to agronomic management and some major genetic factors (e.g. physiological maturity), attempts at connecting these frameworks with drivers of genetics that underpin complex traits have had little success or impact on crop improvement. In further development of the generic APSIM Cereal model we have introduced aspects of physiological development at a more detailed level so that complex phenotypic responses become emergent properties of the model dynamics. At the same time, we intend to retain model simplicity by dealing with crop growth and development processes at a mostly similar level (organ-plant-canopy) to that used in conventional agronomic models. However, we argue that more biologically-grounded quantification of the underpinning processes will provide more robust avenues to link plant response to molecular genetics. There is some evidence for this from a range of studies on adaptation of crops to drought stress, where the generic APSIM cereal template has been employed. In this paper, we present an outline of the template framework and detail the approach to modelling nitrogen dynamics (uptake, allocation, retranslocation) in sorghum. This provides an example of how genetic variation linked to specific attributes of the plant (e.g. height) can generate emergent phenotypic differences in leaf area retention associated with nitrogen. We consider that the generic APSIM Cereal template provides a good framework to develop and enhance the functionality of whole-plant modelling required to help bridge the gene-to-phenotype gap.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genotypic variation in tillering can be caused by differences in the carbon supply-demand balance within a plant. The aim of this study was to understand and quantify the effects of genotype on tillering as a consequence of the underlying internal competition for carbohydrates.
Five sorghum hybrids, derived from inbred lines with a common genetic background and with similar phenology and plant height but contrasting tillering, were grown in five experiments. The experiments covered a wide range in radiation and temperature conditions, so that number of tillers produced varied significantly. Data on leaf area, tiller number, and biomass accumulation and partitioning were collected at regular intervals. To quantify internal plant competition for carbohydrates, a carbohydrate supply-demand index (S/D(index)) was developed and related to variation in tillering.
The appearance of main shoot leaves and tillers was highly co-ordinated across genotypes. High-tillering hybrids had a greater appearance frequency of early tiller ranks than low-tillering hybrids, and this was associated with narrower and hence smaller main shoot leaves. A generalized S/D(index) of internal plant competition accounted for most of the observed variation in maximum tiller number (N(tiller,max)) across genotypes. However, genotypic differences in the relationship between the S/D(index) and N(tiller,max) suggested that high-tillering hybrids also had a lower S/D threshold at which tillers appeared, possibly associated with hormonal effects.
The results support the hypothesis that genotypic differences in tillering were associated with differences in plant carbon S/D balance, associated with differences in leaf size and in the threshold at which tillers grow out. The results provide avenues for phenotyping of mapping populations to identify genomic regions regulating tillering. Incorporating the results in crop growth simulation models could provide insight into the complex genotype-by-management-by-environment interactions associated with drought adaptation.
Annals of Botany 07/2010; 106(1):69-78. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tillering has a significant effect on canopy development and, hence, on resource capture, crop growth and grain yield in sorghum. However, the physiological basis of tillering and its regulation by environmental effects are not fully understood. The objective of this study was to understand and quantify the environmental effects on tillering in sorghum using a carbohydrate supply-demand framework.
A series of five experiments with a wide range of radiation and temperature conditions was conducted and details of the tillering responses of a single representative hybrid were monitored. The concept of internal plant competition for carbohydrate was developed for analysis of these responses.
Tiller appearance was highly synchronized with main shoot leaf appearance, with a consistent hierarchy for tillering across environments. The main environmental effect was on the frequency of tiller appearance, in particular of the lower-rank tillers. This explained some of the observed environmental differences in the onset of tillering. A generalized index of internal plant competition, which took account of plant assimilate supply and demand (S/D(index)) during the critical period for tillering, explained most of the variation in maximum tiller number observed across the five experiments.
This result was consistent with the hypothesis that internal plant competition for assimilates regulates tillering in sorghum. Hence, the framework outlined has a predictive value that could provide the basis for dynamic simulation of tillering in crop growth models.
Annals of Botany 07/2010; 106(1):57-67. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress in molecular plant breeding is limited by the ability to predict plant phenotype based on its genotype, especially for complex adaptive traits. Suitably constructed crop growth and development models have the potential to bridge this predictability gap. A generic cereal crop growth and development model is outlined here. It is designed to exhibit reliable predictive skill at the crop level while also introducing sufficient physiological rigour for complex phenotypic responses to become emergent properties of the model dynamics. The approach quantifies capture and use of radiation, water, and nitrogen within a framework that predicts the realized growth of major organs based on their potential and whether the supply of carbohydrate and nitrogen can satisfy that potential. The model builds on existing approaches within the APSIM software platform. Experiments on diverse genotypes of sorghum that underpin the development and testing of the adapted crop model are detailed. Genotypes differing in height were found to differ in biomass partitioning among organs and a tall hybrid had significantly increased radiation use efficiency: a novel finding in sorghum. Introducing these genetic effects associated with plant height into the model generated emergent simulated phenotypic differences in green leaf area retention during grain filling via effects associated with nitrogen dynamics. The relevance to plant breeding of this capability in complex trait dissection and simulation is discussed.
Journal of Experimental Botany 05/2010; 61(8):2185-202. · 5.79 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Root systems determine the capacity of a plant to access soil water and their architecture can influence adaptation to water-limited
conditions. It may be possible to associate that architecture with root attributes of young plants as a basis for rapid phenotypic
screening. This requires improved understanding of root system development. This study aimed to characterise the morphological
and architectural development of sorghum and maize root systems by (i) clarifying the initiation and origin of roots at germination,
and (ii) monitoring and quantifying the development of root systems in young plants. Three experiments were conducted with
two maize and four sorghum hybrids. Sorghum produced a sole seminal (primary) root and coleoptile nodal roots emerged at the
4th–5th leaf stage, whereas maize produced 3–7 seminal (primary and scutellum) roots and coleoptile nodal roots emerged at
the 2nd leaf stage. Genotypic variation in the flush angle and mean diameter of nodal roots was observed and could be considered
a suitable target for large scale screening for root architecture in breeding populations. Because of the relatively late
appearance of nodal roots in sorghum, such screening would require a small chamber system to grow plants until at least 6
leaves had fully expanded.
KeywordsNodal root-Root angle-Root architecture-Scutellum-Seminal root
Plant and Soil 01/2010; 333(1):287-299. · 3.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maintenance of green leaf area during grain filling can increase grain yield of sorghum grown under terminal water limitation. This ‘stay-green’ trait has been related to the nitrogen (N) supply–demand balance during grain filling. This study quantifies the N demand of grain and N translocation rates from leaves and stem and explores effects of genotype and N stress on onset and rate of leaf senescence during the grain filling period. Three hybrids differing in potential height were grown at three levels of N supply under well-watered conditions. Vertical profiles of biomass, leaf area, and N% of leaves, stem and grain were measured at regular intervals. Weekly SPAD chlorophyll readings on main shoot leaves were correlated with observed specific leaf nitrogen (SLN) to derive seasonal patterns of leaf N content. For all hybrids, individual grain N demand was sink determined and was initially met through N translocation from the stem and rachis. Only if this was insufficient did leaf N translocation occur. Maximum N translocation rates from leaves and stem were dependent on their N status. However, the supply of N at canopy scale was also related to the amount of leaf area senescing at any one time. This supply–demand framework for N dynamics explained effects of N stress and genotype on the onset and rate of leaf senescence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kernel weight is an important factor determining grain yield and nutritional quality in sorghum, yet the developmental processes underlying the genotypic differences in potential kernel weight remain unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the stage in development at which genetic effects on potential kernel weight were realized, and to investigate the developmental mechanisms by which potential kernel weight is controlled in sorghum. Kernel development was studied in two field experiments with five genotypes known to differ in kernel weight at maturity. Pre-fertilization floret and ovary development was examined and post-fertilization kernel-filling characteristics were analysed. Large kernels had a higher rate of kernel filling and contained more endosperm cells and starch granules than normal-sized kernels. Genotypic differences in kernel development appeared before stamen primordia initiation in the developing florets, with sessile spikelets of large-seeded genotypes having larger floret apical meristems than normal-seeded genotypes. At anthesis, the ovaries for large-sized kernels were larger in volume, with more cells per layer and more vascular bundles in the ovary wall. Across experiments and genotypes, there was a significant positive correlation between kernel dry weight at maturity and ovary volume at anthesis. Genotypic effects on meristem size, ovary volume, and kernel weight were all consistent with additive genetic control, suggesting that they were causally related. The pre-fertilization genetic control of kernel weight probably operated through the developing pericarp, which is derived from the ovary wall and potentially constrains kernel expansion.
Journal of Experimental Botany 03/2009; 60(4):1399-408. · 5.79 Impact Factor