, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 341–350 | Cite as

Severe water deficit-induced ethylene production decreases photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency in flag leaves of wheat

  • W. Yang
  • Y. Yin
  • W. Jiang
  • D. Peng
  • D. Yang
  • Y. Cui
  • Z. Wang
Original Papers


Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cv. Jimai22 was used to evaluate the effect of ethylene evolution rate (EER) and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) and their relations with photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency in plants well-watered (WW) and under a severe water deficit (SWD). SWD caused a noticeable reduction in the grain mass. The marked increases in both EER and the ACC concentration were observed under SWD; it was reversed effectively by exogenous spermidine (Spd) or amino-ethoxyvinylglycine (AVG). Thermal images indicated that SWD increased obviously the temperature of flag leaves, mainly due to the decrease in transpiration rate under SWD. Exogenous Spd or AVG decreased to some extent the temperature of the flag leaves. The strong decline in photosynthetic rate (P N) and stomatal conductance as well as the photodamage of PSII were also observed under SWD after 14 and 21 days after anthesis (DAA). Intercellular CO2 concentration was reduced at 7 DAA, but slightly increased at 14 and 21 DAA under SWD, indicating that the decreased P N at 7 DAA might result from stomatal limitations, while the decline after 14 and 21 DAA might be attributed to nonstomatal limitations. Correlation analysis suggested that EER and ACC showed negative relations to photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency. Data obtained suggested that the effects of SWD were mediated predominantly by the increase in EER and ACC concentration, which greatly decreased the leaf photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency, and, therefore, reduced the grain mass. Application of Spd or AVG reduced the EER and ACC, and thus positively influenced photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency under SWD.

Additional key words

1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid ethylene chlorophyll fluorescence net photosynthetic rate severe water deficit Triticum aestivum L. 



1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid




intercellular CO2 concentration




days after anthesis


transpiration rate


ethylene evolution rate


electron transport rate


maximum variable fluorescence


maximum fluorescence


steady-state fluorescence


minimal fluorescence


stomatal conductance


nonphotochemical quenching


net photosynthetic rate




severe water deficit


water-use efficiency




actual photochemical efficiency of PSII


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abeles, F.B.: Regulation of ethylene production by internal, environmental and stress factors. — In: Abeles, F.B., Morgan, P.W., Saltveit Jr., M.E. (ed.): Ethylene in Plant Biology 2nd ed. Pp. 56–119. Academic Press, San Diego 1992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alcázar, R., Planas, J., Saxena, et al.: Putrescine accumulation confers drought tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis plants over-expressing the homologous Arginine decarboxylase 2 gene. — Plant Physiol. Bioch. 48: 547–552, 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Apelbaum, A., Burgoon, A.C., Anderson, J.D., Lieberman, M.: Polyamines inhibit biosynthesis of ethylene in higher plant tissue and fruit protoplasts. — Plant Physiol. 68: 453–456, 1981.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bae, H.H., Kim, S.H., Kim, M.S., et al.: The drought response of Theobroma cacao (cacao) and the regulation of genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis by drought and other stresses. — Plant Physiol. Bioch. 46: 174–188, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boyer, J.S.: Plant productivity and environment. — Science 218: 443–448, 1982.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Chaves, M.M., Oliveira, M.M.: Mechanisms underlying plant resilience to water deficits: prospects for water-saving agriculture. — J. Exp. Bot. 55: 2365–2384, 2004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Chaves, M.M.: Effects of water deficits on carbon assimilation. — J. Exp. Bot. 42: 1–16, 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheng, C.Y., Lur, H.S.: Ethylene may be involved in abortion of the maize caryopsis. — Physiol. Plantarum 98: 245–252, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cornic, G.: Drought stress and high light effects on leaf photosynthesis. — In: Baker, N.R., Bowyer, J.R. (ed.): Photoinhibition of Photosynthesis. Pp. 297–313. Bios Scientific Publishers, Oxford 1994.Google Scholar
  10. Egert, M., Tevini, M.: Influence of drought on some physiological parameters symptomatic for oxidative stress in leaves of chives (Allium schoenoprasum). — Environ. Exp. Bot. 48: 43–49, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ennahli, S., Earl, H.J.: Physiological limitations to photosynthetic carbon assimilation in cotton under water stress. — Crop Sci. 45: 2374–2382, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Flexas, J., Ribas-Carbó, M., Bota, J., et al..: Decreased Rubisco activity during water stress is not induced by decreased relative water content but related to conditions of low stomatal conductance and chloroplast CO2 concentration. — New Phytol. 172: 73–82, 2006.Google Scholar
  13. Fiorani, F., Bogemann, G.M., Visser, E.J.W., Lambers, H., Voesenek, L.A.C.J.: Ethylene emission and responsiveness to applied ethylene vary among Poa species that inherently differ in leaf elongation rates. — Plant Physiol. 129: 1382–1390, 2002.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Galmés, J., Medrano, H., Flexas, J.: Photosynthesis and photoinhibition in response to drought in a pubescent (var. minor) and a glabrous (var. palaui) variety of Digitalis minor. — Environ. Exp. Bot. 60: 105–111, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harsh, P. B., Ravishankar, G.A.: Role of polyamines in the ontogeny of plants and their biotechnological applications. — Plant Cell, Tiss. Org. Cult. 69: 1–34, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. He, L.X., Nada, K., Kasukabe, Y., Tachibana, S.: Enhanced susceptibility of photosynthesis to low-temperature photoinhibition due to interruption of chill-induced increase of S-adenosylmethionice decarboxylase activity in leaves of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). — Plant Cell Physiol. 43: 196–206, 2002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Huang, X.X., Bie, Z.L.: Cinnamic acid-inhibited ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase activity is mediated through decreased spermine and changes in the ratio of polyamines in cowpea. — J. Plant Physiol. 167: 47–53, 2010.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Iqbal, N., Nazar, R., Syeed, S., Masood, A., Khan, N.A.: Exogenously-sourced ethylene increases stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, and growth under optimal and deficient nitrogen fertilization in mustard. — J. Exp. Bot. 62, 4955–4963, 2011.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Jia, Y., Gray, V.M.: Influence of phosphorus and nitrogen on photosynthetic parameters and growth in Vicia faba L. — Photosynthetica 42: 535–542, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kanechi, M., Kunitomo, E., Inagaki, N., Maekawa, S.: Water stress effects on ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase and its relationship to photosynthesis in sunflower leaves. — In: Mathis, P. (ed.): Photosyntheis: from Light to Biosphere. Vol. IV. Pp. 597–600. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht Boston London 1995.Google Scholar
  21. Kaiser, W.M.: Effects of water deficit on photosynthetic capacity. — Physiol. Plantarum 71: 142–149, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Khan, N.A.: An evaluation of the effects of exogenous ethephon, an ethylene releasing compound, on photosynthesis of mustard (Brassica juncea) cultivars that differ in photosynthetic capacity. — BMC Plant Biol. 4: 21–27, 2004.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Khan, N.A.: The influence of exogenous ethylene on growth and photosynthesis of mustard (Brassica juncea) following defoliation. — Sci. Hortic.-Amsterdam 105: 499–505, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li, P.M., Cai, R.G., Gao, H.Y., Peng, T., Wang, Z. L.: Partitioning of excitation energy in two wheat cultivars with different grain protein contents grown under three nitrogen applications in the field. — Physiol. Plantarum 129: 822–829, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Maxwell, K., Johnson, G.N.: Chlorophyll fluorescence a practical guide. — J. Exp. Bot. 51: 659–668, 2000.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Makoto, K., Koike, T.: Effects of nitrogen supply on photosynthetic and anatomical changes in current-year needles of Pinus koraiensis seedlings grown under two irradiances. — Photosynthetica 45: 99–104, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meyer, S., de Kouchkovsky, Y.: Electron transport, photosystem II reaction centres and chlorophyll-protein complexes of thylakoids of drought resistant and sensible lupin plants. — Photosynth. Res. 37: 49–60, 1993.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Morgan, P.W., Drew, M.C.: Ethylene and plant response to stress. — Physiol. Plantarum 100: 620–630, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Murchie, E.H., Chen, Y.Z., Hubbart, S., Peng, S., Horton, P.: Interactions between senescence and leaf orientation determine in situ patterns of photosynthesis and photoinhibition in fieldgrown rice. — Plant Physiol. 119: 553–563, 1999.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Navakoudis, E., Lütz, C., Langebartels, C., Lütz-Meindl, U., Kotzabasis, K.: Ozone impact on the photosynthetic apparatus and the protective role of polyamines. — BBA-Gen. Subjects 1621: 160–169, 2003.Google Scholar
  31. Narayana, I., Lalonde, S., Saini, H.S.: Water-stress induced ethylene production in wheat. — Plant Physiol. 96: 406–410, 1991.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Pierik, R., Tholen, D., Poorter, H., Visser, E.J.W., Voesenek, L.A.C.J.: The Janus face of ethylene: growth inhibition and stimulation. — Trends Plant Sci. 11: 176–183, 2006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Shangguan, Z., Shao, M., Dyckmans, J.: Interaction of osmotic adjustment and photosynthesis in winter wheat under soil drought. — J. Plant Physiol. 154: 753–758, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sharp, R.E., Poroyko, V., Hejlek, L.G., et al.: Root growth maintenance during water deficits: Physiology to functional genomics. — J. Exp. Bot. 55: 2343–2351, 2004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Skotnica, J., Matouskova, M., Naus, J., Lazar, D.: Thermoluminescence and fluorescence study of changes in photosystem II photochemistry in desiccating barley leaves. — Photosynth. Res. 65: 29–40, 2000.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Tholen, D., Pons, T.L., Voesenek, L.A.C.J., Poorter, H.: Ethylene insensitivity results in the down-regulation of Rubisco expression and photosynthetic capacity in tobacco. — Plant Physiol. 144: 1305–1315, 2007.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Wada, Y., Miura, K., Watanabe, K.: Effects of source-to-sink ratio on carbohydrate production and senescence of rice (Oryza sativa) flag leaves during the ripening period. — Jpn. J. Crop Sci. 62: 547–553, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wang, W.X., Vinocur, B., Altman, A.: Plant responses to drought, salinity and extreme temperatures: towards genetic engineering for stress tolerance. — Planta 218: 1–14, 2003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Wang, Z.Q., Xu, Y.J., Wang, J.C., Yang, J.C., Zhang, J.H.: Polyamine and ethylene interactions in grain filling of superior and inferior spikelets of rice. — Plant Growth Regul. 66: 215–228, 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wiltens, J., Schreiber, U., Vidaver, W.: Chlorophyll fluorescence induction: an indicator of photosynthetic activity in marine algae undergoing desiccation. — Can. J. Bot. 56: 2787–2794, 1978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yang, J.C., Zhang, J.H., Liu, K., Wang, Z.Q., Liu, L.J.: Abscisic acid and ethylene interact in wheat grains in response to soil drying during grain filling. — New Phytol. 171: 293–303, 2006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Yang, J.C, Zhang, J.H., Liu, K., Wang, Z.Q., Liu, L.J.: Involvement of polyamines in the drought resistance of rice. — J. Exp. Bot. 58: 1545–1555, 2007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Yordanov, I., Velikova, V., Tsonev, T.: Plant responses to drought and stress tolerance. — Bulg. J. Plant Physiol. Special Issue. 187–206, 2003.Google Scholar
  44. Zadoks, J.C., Chang, T.T., Konzak, C.F.: A decimal code for the growth stages of cereals. — Weed Res. 14: 415–421, 1974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zhang, W.P., Jiang, B., Li, W.G., et al.: Polyamines enhance chilling tolerance of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) through modulating antioxidative system. — Sci. Hortic.-Amsterdam 122: 200–208, 2009.Google Scholar
  46. Zlatev, Z.S., Yordanov, I.T.: Effects of soil drought on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence in bean plants. — Bulg. J. Plant Physiol. 30: 3–18, 2004.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Yang
    • 1
  • Y. Yin
    • 1
  • W. Jiang
    • 1
  • D. Peng
    • 1
  • D. Yang
    • 1
  • Y. Cui
    • 1
  • Z. Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, Agronomy CollegeShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anShandong Province, China

Personalised recommendations