Background and Aims
High temperatures over 32–36 °C at anthesis induce spikelet sterility in rice. The use of a germplasm with an early-morning flowering (EMF) trait has been hypothesized as a way of avoiding this problem. In this study, the effect of the EMF trait on avoiding high temperature-induced sterility at anthesis by flowering at a cooler temperature in the early morning was evaluated.
The EMF trait was introgressed from wild rice (Oryza officinalis) into the rice cultivar ‘Koshihikari’ (O. sativa). First, spikelets of the EMF line and Koshihikari were subjected to rising temperatures during the daytime in the greenhouse to test for differences in spikelet sterility. Secondly, spikelets of both plants were exposed to 26, 34 and 38 °C at anthesis and to 38 °C beginning at least 1 h after flowering, in the growth chambers at 70 % relative humidity, to test for differences in tolerance to high temperatures.
Spikelets of the EMF line started and completed flowering a few hours earlier than Koshihikari. In a greenhouse experiment, spikelets of Koshihikari opened after the air temperature reached 35 °C, but those of the EMF line could open at cooler temperatures. Under these conditions, spikelet sterility significantly increased in Koshihikari, but did not in the EMF line. The number of sterile spikelets increased as their flowering time was delayed in Koshihikari. Furthermore, the chamber experiments revealed that 60 % of the spikelets from both lines were sterile when exposed to 38 °C at anthesis, indicating that tolerance of high temperature was similar in both genotypes.
Reduced sterility in the EMF line subjected to rising temperatures at anthesis in the greenhouse was attributed to an earlier flowering time compared with Koshihikari. The EMF trait of wild rice is effective in mitigating anticipated yield loss due to global warming by escaping high-temperature stress at anthesis during the daytime.