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Response Of Maize Leaf Photosynthesis To Low Temperature During The Grain-filling Period

J. Ying, E. A. Lee, M. Tollenaar
Published 2000 · Biology

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Abstract The response of dry matter accumulation and leaf photosynthesis in maize ( Zea mays L.) to low temperature has been documented during early phases of development, but little is known about the low-temperature response of maize during later phases of development. Studies were conducted in 1999 at the Cambridge Research Station, Ontario, Canada, to quantify the effect of low night temperature during grain filling on leaf photosynthesis of short-season maize hybrids. Plants were grown in a hydroponic system in the field with plants in the low-night temperature treatments exposed to 4°C from late afternoon (17:00 h) to the next morning (9:00 h). Plants of three maize hybrids (i.e., an older hybrid, Pride 5, and two more recent hybrids, Pioneer 3902 and Cargill 1877) were exposed to one night or three consecutive nights of 4°C at weekly intervals from tasseling to 6 weeks after silking. Carbon exchange rate (CER) was measured at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, and 16:00 h on the second leaf above that subtending the topmost ear. Dark-adapted chlorophyll fluorescence ( F v / F m ) was measured at 9:00 h at 6 weeks after silking. Leaf CER of control plants declined almost linearly from about 50 μmol m −2  s −1 at tasseling to about 20 μmol m −2  s −1 at 6 weeks after silking with the rate of decline in the older hybrid approximately two times greater than that in the two newer hybrids. No trend in the reduction in cold-stressed leaf CER relative to the field-grown control was apparent from tasseling to 6 weeks after silking. Reduction in CER was greater during the morning than during the afternoon after exposure to 4°C and the reduction in leaf CER increased from 19.4% after one night, to 25.8% after two nights, and 30.2% after three nights. Mean reduction in leaf CER after one night at 4°C differed significantly among the three hybrids and was 29.7% for Pride 5, 15.4% for Pioneer 3902, and 13.5% for Cargill 1877. The reduction in leaf CER due to low night temperature was associated with a reduction in leaf chlorophyll fluorescence. In conclusion, maize hybrids differ significantly in leaf CER response to cold night temperature during the grain-filling period.
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