Physiological analyses of traits associated with tolerance of long-term partial submergence in rice
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Floods are major constraints to crop production worldwide. In low-lying, flood-prone areas of the tropics, longer-term partial submergence (stagnant flooding [SF]) greatly reduces rice yield. This study assesses shoot growth and several physiological mechanisms associated with SF tolerance in rice. Five rice genotypes with contrasting responses to SF were evaluated in field ponds. Following transplanting, floodwater was gradually increased at a rate of ∼2 cm day(-1) to reach a final depth of 50 cm and then maintained until maturity. Although plants were not fully submerged, the yield was reduced by 47 % across genotypes compared with those grown under control conditions (6.1 vs. 3.3 t ha(-1)). This reduction was mainly attributed to the reduction in biomass caused by reduced light interception and leaf growth above the water. Stagnant flooding also reduced panicle number per unit area by 52 % because of reduced tillering. Shoot elongation rate kept pace with rising floodwater and correlated positively with leaf growth and biomass production. Conversely, stem non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) concentration correlated negatively with shoot elongation rate, suggesting that fast-elongating genotypes actively consume NSCs to avoid complete submergence. Moderate shoot elongation rate strongly and positively correlated with grain yield under SF; however, elongation at rates >2.0 cm day(-1) was associated with reduced harvest index due to a smaller panicle size and increased lodging. Tolerant varieties were found to be either inherently tall or elongate moderately with rising floodwater. Our studies suggest that to improve tolerance of SF an appropriate phenotype should combine both of these traits. Fine-tuning for optimum shoot elongation with rising floodwater is, therefore, a priority for future work.
author list (cited authors)
Kato, Y., Collard, B., Septiningsih, E. M., & Ismail, A. M.