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Effects of timing and severity of salinity stress on rice (Oryza sativa L.) yield, grain composition, and starch functionality.

  • Author(s): Thitisaksakul, Maysaya
  • Tananuwong, Kanitha
  • Shoemaker, Charles F
  • Chun, Areum
  • Tanadul, Orn-u-ma
  • Labavitch, John M
  • Beckles, Diane M
  • et al.

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The aim of this work was to examine agronomic, compositional, and functional changes in rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. Nipponbare) grains from plants grown under low-to-moderate salinity stress in the greenhouse. Plants were grown in sodium chloride-containing soil (2 or 4 dS/m(2) electrical conductivity), which was imposed 4-weeks after transplant (called Seedling EC2 and EC4) or after the appearance of the anthers (called Anthesis EC2 and EC4). The former simulates field conditions while the latter permits observation of the isolated effect of salt on grain filling processes. Key findings of this study are the following: (i) Plants showed adaptive responses to prolonged salt treatment with no negative effects on grain weight or fertility. Seedling EC2 plants had more panicles and enhanced caryopsis dimensions, while surprisingly, Seedling EC4 plants did not differ from the control group in the agronomic parameters measured. (ii) Grain starch increased in Seedling EC4 (32.6%) and Anthesis EC2 (39%), respectively, suggesting a stimulatory effect of salt on starch accumulation. (iii) The salinity treatment of 2 dS/m(2) was better tolerated at anthesis than the 4 dS/m(2) treatment as the latter led to reduced grain weight (28.8%) and seed fertility (19.4%) and compensatory increases in protein (20.1%) and nitrogen (19.8%) contents. (iv) Although some salinity treatments led to changes in starch content, these did not alter starch fine structure, morphology, or composition. We observed no differences in reducing sugar and amylose content or starch granule size distribution among any of the treatments. The only alterations in starch were limited to small changes in thermal properties and glucan chain distribution, which were only seen in the Anthesis EC4 treatment. This similarity of compositional and functional features was supported by multivariate analysis of all variables measured, which suggested that differences due to treatments were minimal. Overall, this study documents the specific response of rice under defined conditions, and illustrates that the plasticity of plant response to mild stress is complex and highly context-dependent, even under greenhouse conditions in which other potential environmental stress impacts are minimized.

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