24-epibrassinolide increases growth, grain yield and β-ODAP production in seeds of well-watered and moderately water-stressed grass pea

Abstract

24-epibrassinolide (EBL) is a growth regulator that promotes crop growth and yield, especially under water stress, but its effect on grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.), a legume crop widely recognized as adapted to rainfed environments, is unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of exogenously-applied EBL on growth, yield and accumulation of β-N-oxalyl-L-α, β-diaminopropionic acid (β-ODAP)—a neurotoxin that can induce lathyrism in animals and humans—in grass pea under well-watered (WW) and water-stressed conditions. The first experiment conducted in a growth chamber showed that EBL application increased plant height and leaf area of well-watered [WW, 85 % field capacity (FC)] grass pea seedlings and in those in which the soil dried from 85 to 30 % FC. In two pot experiments conducted under a rainout shelter, three water regimes—soil water contents maintained at (1) 85 or 80 % FC, (2) 50 % FC, and (3) 35 % FC—were imposed. In the first rainout shelter experiment, root/soil drenching with EBL significantly increased aboveground dry weight (DW) and water use efficiency (WUE) compared with plants without EBL at 85 and 50 % FC, but did not significantly affect grain yield. In a second rainout shelter experiment, water treatments were imposed from the vegetative phase to maturity and EBL treatment significantly increased aboveground DW, grain yield, β-ODAP concentration and amount, and WUE in the 80 and 50 % FC water regimes. It is concluded that exogenously-applied EBL can stimulate growth and WUE in grass pea when WW and moderately water stressed, and also stimulates β-ODAP production such that the concentration in the grain is similar or even higher.

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Acknowledgments

The research was funded by the Chinese Scholarships Council, the International Cooperation Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2015DFG31840), the State Technology Support Program (2015BAD22B04), Doctoral Fund of Ministry of Education of China (20110211110022), the Overseas Masters Program of Ministry of Education (Ms2011LZDX059), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (lzujbky-2015-br02). We also thank Dr. Jia-Yin Pang for her assistance in improving the English of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to You-Cai Xiong or Neil C. Turner.

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Xiong, JL., Kong, HY., Akram, N.A. et al. 24-epibrassinolide increases growth, grain yield and β-ODAP production in seeds of well-watered and moderately water-stressed grass pea. Plant Growth Regul 78, 217–231 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10725-015-0087-1

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Keywords

  • Stomatal conductance
  • Plant height
  • Leaf area
  • Water use efficiency
  • Growth regulator
  • Grain number