The regulation of plant transpiration was proposed as a key factor affecting transpiration efficiency and agronomical adaptation of wheat to water-limited Mediterranean environments. However, to date no studies have related this trait to crop performance in the field. In this study, the transpiration response to increasing vapor pressure deficit (VPD) of modern Spanish semi-dwarf durum wheat lines was evaluated under controlled conditions at vegetative stage, and the agronomical performance of the same set of lines was assessed at grain filling as well as grain yield at maturity, in Mediterranean environments ranging from water stressed to good agronomical conditions. A group of linear-transpiration response (LTR) lines exhibited better performance in grain yield and biomass compared to segmented-transpiration response (STR) lines, particularly in the wetter environments, whereas the reverse occurred only in the most stressed trial. LTR lines generally exhibited better water status (stomatal conductance) and larger green biomass (vegetation indices) during the reproductive stage than STR lines. In both groups, the responses to growing conditions were associated with the expression levels of dehydration-responsive transcription factors (DREB) leading to different performances of primary metabolism-related enzymes. Thus, the response of LTR lines under fair to good conditions was associated with higher transcription levels of genes involved in nitrogen (GS1 and GOGAT) and carbon (RCBL) metabolism, as well as water transport (TIP1.1). In conclusion, modern durum wheat lines differed in their response to water loss, the linear transpiration seemed to favor uptake and transport of water and nutrients, and photosynthetic metabolism led to higher grain yield except for very harsh drought conditions. The transpiration response to VPD may be a trait to further explore when selecting adaptation to specific water conditions.
|Journal||Frontiers in Plant Science|
|State||Published - 15 Jan 2019|
- Durum wheat
- Gene regulation
- Vegetation indices
- Water transport