Journal Article

How yield relates to ash content, Δ<sup>13</sup>C and Δ<sup>18</sup>O in maize grown under different water regimes

Llorenç Cabrera-Bosquet, Ciro Sánchez and José Luis Araus

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 6, pages 1207-1216
Published in print November 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp229
How yield relates to ash content, Δ13C and Δ18O in maize grown under different water regimes

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Stable isotopes have proved a valuable phenotyping tool when breeding for yield potential and drought adaptation; however, the cost and technical skills involved in isotope analysis limit its large-scale application in breeding programmes. This is particularly so for Δ18O despite the potential relevance of this trait in C4 crops. The accumulation of minerals (measured as ash content) has been proposed as an inexpensive way to evaluate drought adaptation and yield in C3 cereals, but little is known of the usefulness of this measure in C4 cereals such as maize (Zea mays). The present study investigates how yield relates to ash content, Δ13C and Δ18O, and evaluates the use of ash content as an alternative or complementary criterion to stable isotopes in assessing yield potential and drought resistance in maize.

Methods

A set of tropical maize hybrids developed by CIMMYT were subjected to different water availabilities, in order to induce water stress during the reproductive stages under field conditions. Ash content and Δ13C were determined in leaves and kernels. In addition, Δ18O was measured in kernels.

Key Results

Water regime significantly affected yield, ash content and stable isotopes. The results revealed a close relationship between ash content in leaves and the traits informing about plant water status. Ash content in kernels appeared to reflect differences in sink–source balance. Genotypic variation in grain yield was mainly explained by the combination of ash content and Δ18O, whilst Δ13C did not explain a significant percentage of such variation.

Conclusions

Ash content in leaves and kernels proved a useful alternative or complementary criterion to Δ18O in kernels for assessing yield performance in maize grown under drought conditions.

Keywords: Ash content; Δ13C; Δ18O; Zea mays; water stress; drought resistance; grain yield

Journal Article.  7025 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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