Post-flowering night respiration and altered sink activity account for high night temperature-induced grain yield and quality loss in rice (Oryza sativa L.).
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High night temperature (HNT) is a major constraint to sustaining global rice production under future climate. Physiological and biochemical mechanisms were elucidated for HNT-induced grain yield and quality loss in rice. Contrasting rice cultivars (N22, tolerant; Gharib, susceptible; IR64, high yielding with superior grain quality) were tested under control (23 degrees C) and HNT (29 degrees C) using unique field-based tents from panicle initiation till physiological maturity. HNT affected 1000 grain weight, grain yield, grain chalk and amylose content in Gharib and IR64. HNT increased night respiration (Rn) accounted for higher carbon losses during post-flowering phase. Gharib and IR64 recorded 16 and 9% yield reduction with a 63 and 35% increase in average post-flowering Rn under HNT, respectively. HNT altered sugar accumulation in the rachis and spikelets across the cultivars with Gharib and IR64 recording higher sugar accumulation in the rachis. HNT reduced panicle starch content in Gharib (22%) and IR64 (11%) at physiological maturity, but not in the tolerant N22. At the enzymatic level, HNT reduced sink strength with lower cell wall invertase and sucrose synthase activity in Gharib and IR64, which affected starch accumulation in the developing grain, thereby reducing grain weight and quality. Interestingly, N22 recorded lower Rn-mediated carbon losses and minimum impact on sink strength under HNT. Mechanistic responses identified will facilitate crop models to precisely estimate HNT-induced damage under future warming scenarios.
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