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J Plant Physiol. 2017 Sep;216:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 May 10.

Regulation of maize kernel weight and carbohydrate metabolism by abscisic acid applied at the early and middle post-pollination stages in vitro.

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College of Agronomy & Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China.
College of Agronomy & Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China. Electronic address:


Abscisic acid (ABA) accumulates in plants under drought stress, but views on the role of ABA in kernel formation and abortion are not unified. The response of the developing maize kernel to exogenous ABA was investigated by excising kernels from cob sections at four days after pollination and culturing in vitro with different concentrations of ABA (0, 5, 10, 100μM). When ABA was applied at the early post-pollination stage (EPPS), significant weight loss was observed at high ABA concentration (100μM), which could be attributed to jointly affected sink capacity and activity. Endosperm cells and starch granules were decreased significantly with high concentration, and ABA inhibited the activities of soluble acid invertase and acid cell wall invertase, together with earlier attainment of peak values. When ABA was applied at the middle post-pollination stage (MPPS), kernel weight was observably reduced with high concentration and mildly increased with low concentration, which was regulated due to sink activity. The inhibitory effect of high concentration and the mild stimulatory effect of low concentration on sucrose synthase and starch synthase activities were noted, but a peak level of ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase) was stimulated in all ABA treatments. Interestingly, AGPase peak values were advanced by low concentration and postponed by high concentration. In addition, compared with the control, the weight of low ABA concentration treatments were not statistically significant at the two stages, whereas weight loss from high concentration applied at EPPS was considerably obvious compared with that of the MPPS, but neither led to kernel abortion. The temporal- and dose-dependent impacts of ABA reveal a complex process of maize kernel growth and development.


Abscisic acid; Endosperm cell division; In vitro culture; Kernel weight; Maize; Metabolic enzymes

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