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Identification of heat tolerant wheat lines showing genetic variation in leaf respiration and other physiological traits

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A total of 140 diverse spring wheat lines were characterized for agronomic and physiological traits under hot field conditions, and a subset of thirteen were selected for dark leaf respiration studies (Rd). These genetic resources included synthetic-derived lines, landraces, landrace-derived lines, bread wheats, and durum wheats. Initial phenotyping showed that better heat-adapted genotypes (best yielding) exhibited high early biomass (assessed by normalized difference of vegetative index, NDVI), high grainfilling rates, and low canopy temperatures. As for other studies Rd increased as temperature increased (within the range of 15–40 °C), and decreased with plant age. Correlations between Rd and leaf temperature ranged between 0.50 and 0.85. Rd was negatively associated with yield when recorded at 30–35 °C during anthesis and grainfilling. Comparisons between wheat groups showed that synthetic-derived materials expressed lower leaf respiration rates and larger yields than the other groups at warm temperatures.

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Kernel weight


Kernel number


Grainfilling rate


Grainfilling duration


Canopy temperature during the vegetative stage


Canopy temperature during the grainfilling stage


Average canopy temperature during the vegetative and grainfilling stages


Normalized difference in vegetative index during the vegetative stage


Normalized difference in vegetative index during the grainfilling stage


Average normalized difference in vegetative index during the vegetative and grainfilling stages


Water soluble carbohydrate content in stems


Dry biomass production at maturity

Rd :

Dark leaf respiration rate


Leaf chlorophyll content during grainfilling

T min :

Minimum air temperature

T max :

Maximum air temperature


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Author contribution statement

RSP conducted field experiments, performed data analysis, and led the write-up. GM contributed in field data collection and interpretation, as well as providing valuable advice in writing the manuscript. MPR designed the experiments and participated in all aspects of data analysis, interpretation, and writing.

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Correspondence to Matthew P. Reynolds.

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Pinto, R.S., Molero, G. & Reynolds, M.P. Identification of heat tolerant wheat lines showing genetic variation in leaf respiration and other physiological traits. Euphytica 213, 76 (2017).

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