Mineral nutrients in grains act as a source of nutrients in human diets, in which deficiencies of key minerals including calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc have prompted efforts to increase their concentrations in the edible portions of staple grain crops. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crops in many regions often suffer abiotic stresses such as drought, extreme heat or frost during grain filling, which affect mineral source–sink relationships. We hypothesized that these stresses would have nutrient-specific impacts on grain nutrient concentrations due to differences among nutrients in phloem mobility, post-anthesis uptake and grain loading patterns. Nutrient loading patterns into wheat grains were investigated in two wheat cultivars in the field by sequentially harvesting tagged ears and analyzing tissues for key nutrients. In addition, the impact of perturbed source–sink relations during grain filling on nutrient loading was investigated by inducing post-anthesis drought /floret abortion in a glasshouse study. Over 90% of Ca and around 70% of Na, K, and Mg accumulated in both wheat cultivars in the field during the first 14 d of grain development. The concentrations of micronutrients (Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn), Mg and P in grains generally increased when florets were aborted, and were unchanged under drought stress, while concentrations of Ca and K were highest under drought stress and lowest under the 66% floret abortion treatment. The observed changes in grain nutrient concentrations from post-anthesis drought/floret abortion could not be fully explained by nutrient-specific differences in phloem mobility, post-anthesis uptake and grain loading patterns. This study will inform future research to define the precise roles of individual nutrients within developing grains and to fully understand the observed variations in grain nutrient concentrations due to source/sink modifications
Rose, TJ, Raymond, CA, Bloomfield, C, King, GJ 2015, 'Perturbation of nutrient source-sink relationships by post-anthesis stresses results in differential accumulation of nutrients in wheat grain', Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, vol. 178, no. 1, pp. 89-98.
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