Phenotypic plasticity in rice: Responses to fertilization and inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Shujuan Zhang, Li Wang*, Fang Ma, Jixian Yang, Owen K. Atkin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Aims: Changes in the phenotype of crops (phenotypic plasticity) are known to play an important role in determining responses to nutrient availability, with the direction and magnitude of plasticity of individual traits being crucial for grain yields. Our study analysed the direction, magnitude and hierarchy of plastic responses of yield-related traits (i.e. biomass allocation and yield components) of rice (Oryza sativa L.) to nutrient availability. We estimated the effect of inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on these characteristics of phenotypic plasticity. Methods: A field experiment was carried out in northeast China, providing rice with six NPK fertilizer levels with or without inoculation with Glomus mosseae. At maturity, we quantified biomass allocation traits (shoot:root ratio and panicle:shoot ratio) and yield component traits (panicle number per hill, spikelet number per panicle, percentage of filled spikelets and seed weight). We also assessed the direction of change in each trait and the magnitude of trait plasticity. Important Findings: In non-inoculated plants, we found that biomass allocation and seed-number traits (i.e. panicle number per hill, spikelet number per panicle and percentage of filled spikelets) responded to fertilization in the same direction, increasing with rising fertilization. Panicle formation was the most plastic trait, while seed mass was the least plastic trait. AMF inoculation nullified the relationship between most biomass allocation and seed-number traits (except for that between panicle:shoot ratio and the percentage of filled spikelets) but increased the magnitude of plasticity in biomass allocation traits without altering the hierarchy of traits' plasticity. These results underscore the importance of plasticity of yield-related traits per se, and the impact of AMF on plasticity, for maintaining rice yields under low fertilization regimes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-116
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Plant Ecology
    Volume9
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

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