Effects of High Nighttime Temperature and Role of Plant Growth Regulators on Growth, Development and Physiology of Rice Plants
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Seasonally high nighttime temperatures (HNT) along the United States Gulf Coast and in regions of similar climate, during the critical stages of development, could reduce rice yield and quality. To study the effects of HNT on plant physiology, a method for applying a controlled heating treatment to plant canopies was developed using overhead infrared heaters, which are relatively inexpensive and are accurate, precise and reliable in rapidly controlling the temperature. The apparatus successfully maintained air temperatures within the set points plus/minus 0.5 degrees C, and was used for all the experiments. Several experiments were conducted to determine the response of various physiological parameters during and following exposure of rice plants to HNT (32 degrees C) or ambient nighttime temperature (ANT) (27 degrees C) starting from 2000 h until 0600 h, and with or without plant growth regulator treatments. The plant growth regulator treatments included alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), glycine betaine (GB), and salicylic acid (SA), which play different roles in inducing thermo-tolerance in plants. High nighttime temperature had no effect on plant height, number of tillers and panicles, or rice net leaf photosynthetic rates. However, HNT increased leaf respiration (dark respiration in the night) (21%) and decreased membrane thermo-stability (60%), pollen germination (20%), spikelet fertility (18% as a % of total spikelets), grain length (2%), and grain width (2%). The HNT also hastened plant development. The combinations of these effects decreased rice yield by 90%. Moreover, under HNT, there were decreases in leaf chlorophyll concentration (7%) and nitrogen concentration (18%). Application of GB and SA increased total antioxidant capacity of the rice plants by 17%, thereby decreasing the leaf respiration rates, increasing membrane thermo-stability, pollen germination, and spikelet fertility, thus increasing the yield. High nighttime temperature decreased leaf starch concentration (14%), grain total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentration (9%), and grain extractable invertase activity (20%). Vitamin E- or GB-treated plants had greater grain soluble-sugar concentrations, whereas SA-treated plants had greater leaf soluble-sugar concentrations and lower grain TNC concentrations. Invertase activity was shown to be not rate limiting or required for sucrose degradation for starch synthesis in grain of 'Cocodrie' rice under short-term high nighttime temperatures exposures during grain filling. In conclusion, HNT decreased rice yield by increasing plant respiration, rate of crop development, and decreasing membrane thermo-stability, pollen germination, spikelet fertility and grain dimensions. Exogenous application of GB and SA increased yields under HNT, possibly acting through increased antioxidant levels, which might have protected the membranes and enzymes against heat-induced ROS-mediated degradation.
Mohammed, Abdul R. (2009). Effects of High Nighttime Temperature and Role of Plant Growth Regulators on Growth, Development and Physiology of Rice Plants. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from