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J Exp Bot. 2010;61(2):597-607. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp329. Epub 2009 Nov 18.

An analysis of dormancy, ABA responsiveness, after-ripening and pre-harvest sprouting in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) caryopses.

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  • 1Division of Plant and Crop Sciences, School of BioSciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


Embryo and caryopsis dormancy, abscisic acid (ABA) responsiveness, after-ripening (AR), and the disorder pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) were investigated in six genetically related wheat varieties previously characterized as resistant, intermediate, or susceptible to PHS. Timing of caryopsis AR differed between varieties; AR occurred before harvest ripeness in the most PHS-susceptible, whereas AR was slowest in the most PHS-resistant. Whole caryopses of all varieties showed little ABA-responsiveness during AR; PHS-susceptible varieties were responsive at the beginning of the AR period whereas PHS-resistant showed some responsiveness throughout. Isolated embryos showed relatively little dormancy during grain-filling and most varieties exhibited a window of decreased ABA-responsiveness around the period of maximum dry matter accumulation (physiological maturity). Susceptibility to PHS was assessed by overhead misting of either isolated ears or whole plants during AR; varieties were clearly distinguished using both methods. These analyses allowed an investigation of the interactions between the different components of seed development, compartments, and environment for the six varieties. There was no direct relationship between speed of caryopsis AR and embryo dormancy or ABA-responsiveness during seed maturation. However, the velocity of AR of a variety was closely associated with the degree of susceptibility to PHS during AR suggesting that these characters are developmentally linked. Investigation of genetic components of AR may therefore aid breeding approaches to reduce susceptibility to PHS.

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