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Heat Stress During Grain Filling In Maize: Effects On Carbohydrate Storage And Metabolism

G. W. Singletary, R. Banisadr, P. Keeling
Published 1994 · Biology

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Heat stress during maize seed development can interfere with endosperm starch biosynthesis and reduce seed size, an important component of yield. Our objectives were to evaluate the direct influence of temperature during grain filling on kernel growth, carbohydrate accumulation, and corresponding endosperm metabolism. Kernels of maize were grown in vitro at 25oC until 15 or 16 days after pollination and then subjected to various temperatures for the remainder of their development. Mature kernel dry weight declined 45% in a linear fashion between 22 and 36oC. The rate of starch accumulation reached a maximum at approximately 32oC, and when measured at frequent intervals, declined only slightly with further temperature increase to 35oC. Reduced seed size resulted from an abbreviated duration of starch-related metabolism, which did not appear to be limited by endogenous sugars. Instead, a survey of 12 enzymes of sugar and starch metabolism indicated that ADP glucose pyrophosphorylase and soluble starch synthase were unique in displaying developmental peaks of activity which were compressed both in amount and time, similar to the effect of temperature on starch accumulation. We conclude that decreased starch synthesis in heat-stressed maize kernels results from a premature decline in the activity of these enzymes.
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