Variation in chlorophyll content per unit leaf area in spring wheat and implications for selection in segregating material
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Reduced levels of leaf chlorophyll content per unit leaf area in crops may be of advantage in the search for higher yields. Possible reasons include better light distribution in the crop canopy and less photochemical damage to leaves absorbing more light energy than required for maximum photosynthesis. Reduced chlorophyll may also reduce the heat load at the top of canopy, reducing water requirements to cool leaves. Chloroplasts are nutrient rich and reducing their number may increase available nutrients for growth and development. To determine whether this hypothesis has any validity in spring wheat requires an understanding of genotypic differences in leaf chlorophyll content per unit area in diverse germplasm. This was measured with a SPAD 502 as SPAD units. The study was conducted in series of environments involving up to 28 genotypes, mainly spring wheat. In general, substantial and repeatable genotypic variation was observed. Consistent SPAD readings were recorded for different sampling positions on leaves, between different leaves on single plant, between different plants of the same genotype, and between different genotypes grown in the same or different environments. Plant nutrition affected SPAD units in nutrient poor environments. Wheat genotypes DBW 10 and Transfer were identified as having consistent and contrasting high and low average SPAD readings of 52 and 32 units, respectively, and a methodology to allow selection in segregating populations has been developed. © 2014 Hamblin et al.
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