Phosphorus (P) is translocated from vegetative tissues to developing seeds during senescence in annual crop plants, but the impact of this P mobilisation on photosynthesis and plant performance is poorly understood. This study investigated rice (Oryza sativa L.) flag leaf photosynthesis and P remobilisation in a hydroponic study where P was either supplied until maturity or withdrawn permanently from the nutrient solution at anthesis, 8 days after anthesis (DAA) or 16 DAA. Prior to anthesis, plants received either the minimum level of P in nutrient solution required to achieve maximum grain yield ('adequate P treatment'), or received luxury levels of P in the nutrient solution ('luxury P treatment'). Flag leaf photosynthesis was impaired at 16 DAA when P was withdrawn at anthesis or 8 DAA under adequate P supply but only when P was withdrawn at anthesis under luxury P supply. Ultimately, reduced photosynthesis did not translate into grain yield reductions. There was some evidence plants remobilised less essential P pools (e.g. Pi) or replaceable P pools (e.g. phospholipid-P) prior to remobilisation of P in pools critical to leaf function such as nucleic acid-P and cytosolic Pi. Competition for P between vegetative tissues and developing grains can impair photosynthesis when P supply is withdrawn during early grain filling. A reduction in the P sink strength of grains by genetic manipulation may enable leaves to sustain high rates of photosynthesis until the later stages of grain filling.
Jeong, K, Julia, CC, Waters, DLE, Pantoja, O, Wissuwa, M, Heuer, S, Liu, L & Rose, TJ 2017, 'Remobilisation of phosphorus fractions in rice flag leaves during grain filling: implications for photosynthesis and grain yields', Plos One, vol. 12, no. 11.