Spike photosynthesis and its role in grain filling in Indian wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

Chanderkant Chaudhary

Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi South Campus

Paramjit Khurana


The flag leaf and spike are the prime organs in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) which contribute majorly for spike photosynthesis and eventually aid in grain filling. In this study we have tried to elucidate the effect of abiotic stress on the grain filling and spike photosynthesis. In order to unravel the role of flag leaf, awn, and spike in wheat grain filling and spike photosynthesis, 1000-kernel weight were calculated after removing flag leaves, awns, and by shading the spike in four wheat genotypes (PBW343, C306, K7903, HD2329) for two seasons (2014-2015, 2015-2016). A significant decrease in the grain filling was observed for all the genotypes. These results indicate the role of these organs in spike photosynthesis. The role of the awn tissue was investigated in PBW343 for its role in spike photosynthesis during heat stress. Deep transcriptome sequencing of the awn tissue (PBW343) was performed and it revealed 147573 unigenes. Out of these, 394 genes were differentially expressed genes (DEGs). These DEGs constitutes 201 upregulated and 193 downregulated genes. Genes involved in photosynthesis (Ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase activase B, NADH dehydrogenase, Fe-S protein2), membrane integrity (ATP-dependent zinc metalloprotease FTSH6), and ion channel transporters (two-pore potassium channel3) were prominently expressed. Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis represents PSII associated light-harvesting complex II catabolism, chloroplast organization, photosynthesis light harvesting in photosystemI, ethylene biosynthesis, regulation of oxidoreductase activity, stomatal closure, chlorophyll biosynthesis categories, which are highly overrepresented under heat stress conditions. Therefore, utilizing the awn transcriptome information, Rubisco activase (RCA) gene was chosen for overexpression studies in wheat and rice with the aim to enhance the photosynthetic efficiency of the spike tissue leading to higher grain filling.