Photosynthesis is Reduced, and Seeds Fail to Set and Fill at Similar Soil Water Contents in Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) Subjected to Terminal Drought
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© 2014 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) is an indeterminate grain legume considered adapted to dry environments, but the mechanisms of its adaptation are not well understood. Grass pea plants were exposed to terminal drought from podding, and the development of water deficit was measured together with its effects on leaf photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, carbon remobilisation to the seeds, flower production and abortion, pod production and abortion, seed set, seed growth and the neurotoxin ß-N-oxalyl-L-a, ß-diaminopropionic acid (ß-ODAP) concentration. Predawn leaf water potential (?<inf>leaf</inf>), stomatal conductance (gs), rate of leaf photosynthesis (Pn), flower production, pod production, filled pod number, seed number, seed size and yield decreased, while flower abortion, pod abortion and seed abortion increased, and the concentration of ß-ODAP was unchanged under terminal drought conditions. gs and Pn began to decrease at a higher plant-available soil water content (PAWC) (67.2 ± 2.3 % and 62.9 ± 2.3 %) than ?<inf>leaf</inf> (43.7 ± 1.1 %). Flowers and pods ceased being produced only when the PAWC decreased below 40.1 ± 4.6 % and 35.3 ± 3.0 %, respectively, but seed set and seed growth ceased when PAWC decreased below 55.5 ± 1.6 % and 58.0 ± 3.7 %, respectively. The mobilization of <sup>13</sup>C labelled assimilates from the stems was greater under terminal drought than under well-watered conditions, but the transfer to the seed was small. We conclude that seed set and seed growth decreased as the soil dried due to a reduction in current photosynthesis as a result of stomatal closure.
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