, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 261-276

Effect of assimilate utilization on photosynthetic rate in wheat

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Two weeks after anthesis, when the grain is filling rapidly, the rate of photosynthesis by flag leaves of wheat cv. Gabo was between 20 and 30 mg CO2 dm-2 leaf surface hour-1 under the conditions used. About 45% of flag-leaf assimilates were translocated to the ear, and only about 12% to the roots and young shoots.

On removing the ear, net photosynthesis by the flag leaves was reduced by about 50% within 3–15 hours, and there was a marked reduction in the outflow of 14C-labelled assimilates from the flag leaves.

Subsequent darkening of all other leaves on plants without ears led to recovery of flag-leaf photosynthesis, as measured by gas analysis and 14CO2 fixation, and to increased translocation of assimilates to the roots and young shoots. Minor changes in the rates of dark respiration accompanied these major, reversible changes in photosynthetic rate.

After more than a week in continuous, high-intensity light, the rate of photosynthesis by flag leaves of intact plants had fallen considerably, but could be restored again by a period in darkness, or by inhibiting photosynthesis in the ears by spraying them with DCMU. The inhibition of ear photosynthesis increased translocation of labelled assimilates from the flag leaf to the ears, without affecting leaf sugar levels.

The application of TIBA to the culm below the ear inhibited auxin movement throught the culm, but had no influence on flag-leaf photosynthesis.

These results suggest that, at least in this system, photosynthesis by the flag leaf is regulated directly by the demand for assimilates from the flag leaf and not indirectly through action in the leaf of auxins produced by the “sink” organs.