, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 40–46 | Cite as

Comparison of the photosynthetic characteristics in the pericarp and flag leaves during wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) caryopsis development

  • L. A. Kong
  • Y. Xie
  • M. Z. Sun
  • J. S. Si
  • L. Hu
Original Papers


The pericarp of cereal crops is considered a photosynthetically active tissue. Although extensive studies have been performed on green leaves, the photosynthetic role of the pericarp in cereal caryopsis development has not been well investigated. In the present study, we investigated the anatomy, ultrastructure, chlorophyll (Chl) fluorescence, and oxygen evolution of the pericarp during caryopsis ontogenesis in field wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). The results showed that wheat pericarp cross-cells contained Chl; the grana stacks and thylakoid membranes in the cross-cells were more distinct in the pericarp than those in the flag leaves as shown by transmission electron microscopy. Chl fluorescence revealed that the photosynthetic efficiency, which was indicated by values of maximum efficiency of PSII photochemistry and effective PSII quantum yield, was lower in the pericarp compared to that of the flag leaf eight days after anthesis (DAA), whereas similar values were subsequently observed. The nonphotochemical quenching values were lower from 8–16 DAA but significantly increased in the pericarp from 24–32 DAA compared to the flag leaf. The oxygen evolution rate of the flag leaves was consistently higher than that of pericarp; notably, isolated pericarps released more oxygen than intact pericarps during caryopsis development. These results suggest that the pericarp plays a key role in caryopsis development by performing photosynthesis as well as by supplying oxygen to the endosperm and dissipating excessive energy during the grain-filling stages.

Additional key words

chlorophyll fluorescence oxygen evolution pericarp photosynthesis wheat ultrastructure 





days after anthesis


minimal fluorescence yield of the dark-adapted state


steadystate fluorescence yield


maximum variable fluorescence in dark-adapted samples


maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry


maximal fluorescence yield of the dark-adapted state


fresh mass


maximal fluorescence yield of the light-adapted state


nonphotochemical quenching


phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


effective quantum yield of PSII photochemistry


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Kong
    • 1
  • Y. Xie
    • 1
  • M. Z. Sun
    • 2
  • J. S. Si
    • 1
  • L. Hu
    • 1
  1. 1.Crop Research InstituteShandong Academy of Agricultural SciencesJinanChina
  2. 2.Plant Protection Station of Liaocheng CityLiaochengChina

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