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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2023, Vol. 22 Issue (7): 2054-2066    DOI: 10.1016/j.jia.2022.10.005
Crop Science Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Tiller fertility is critical for improving grain yield, photosynthesis and nitrogen efficiency in wheat
DING Yong-gang1, ZHANG Xin-bo1, MA Quan1, LI Fu-jian1, TAO Rong-rong1, ZHU Min1, 2, Li Chun-yan1, 2, ZHU Xin-kai1, 2, GUO Wen-shan1,2, DING Jin-feng1, 2, 3# 
1 Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology/Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Cultivation and Physiology/Agricultural
College, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, P.R.China
2 Jiangsu Co-Innovation Center for Modern Production Technology of Grain Crops, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009,
3 Jiangsu Ruihua Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd., Suqian 223800, P.R.China
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Abstract  Genetic improvement has promoted wheat’s grain yield and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) during the past decades. Therefore, the current wheat cultivars exhibit higher grain yield and NUE than previous cultivars in the Yangtze River Basin, China since the 2000s. However, the critical traits and mechanisms of the increased grain yield and NUE remain unknown. This study explores the mechanisms underlying these new cultivars’ increased grain yield and NUE by studying 21 local cultivars cultivated for three growing seasons from 2016 to 2019. Significantly positive correlations were observed between grain yield and NUE in the three years. The cultivars were grouped into high (HH), medium (MM), and low (LL) grain yield and NUE groups. The HH group exhibited significantly high grain yield and NUE. High grain yield was attributed to more effective ears by high tiller fertility and greater single-spike yield by increasing postanthesis single-stem biomass. Compared to other groups, the HH group demonstrated a longer leaf stay-green ability and a greater flag leaf photosynthetic rate after anthesis. It also showed higher N accumulation at pre-anthesis, which contributed to increasing N accumulation per stem, including stem and leaf sheath, leaf blade, and unit leaf area at preanthesis, and promoting N uptake efficiency, the main contribution of high NUE. Moreover, tiller fertility was positively related to N accumulation per stem, N accumulation per unit leaf area, leaf stay-green ability, and flag leaf photosynthetic rate, which indicates that improving tiller fertility promoted N uptake, leaf N accumulation, and photosynthetic ability, thereby achieving synchronous improvements in grain yield and NUE. Therefore, tiller fertility is proposed as an important kernel indicator that can be used in the breeding and management of cultivars to improve agricultural efficiency and sustainability.
Keywords:  grain yield       NUE        tiller fertility        photosynthesis        nitrogen uptake  
Received: 11 May 2022   Accepted: 09 September 2022
Fund: This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31771711 and 32071953), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300405), the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions,China, the Project of the Vice General Manager of Science and Technology of Jiangsu Province, China (FZ20211472), and the Plan of Gathering 1 000 Leading Talents of Suqian, China.
About author:  #Correspondence DING Jin-feng, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

DING Yong-gang, ZHANG Xin-bo, MA Quan, LI Fu-jian, TAO Rong-rong, ZHU Min, Li Chun-yan, ZHU Xin-kai, GUO Wen-shan, DING Jin-feng. 2023. Tiller fertility is critical for improving grain yield, photosynthesis and nitrogen efficiency in wheat. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 22(7): 2054-2066.

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