Journal of plant physiology 2016
Comparative proteomics of the superior and inferior spikelets at the early grain filling stage in rice cultivars contrast for panicle compactness and ethylene evolution.
The breeding programmes in rice aimed at increasing the number of spikelets per panicle have been accompanied by poor grain filling in the inferior spikelets of large panicle rice, leading to yield disadvantage. The present study attempted to understand the reason for differential grain filling in the inferior and superior spikelets by comparative proteomics considering a compact-panicle rice cultivar Mahalaxmi and a lax-panicle rice cultivar Upahar, which show poor and good grain filling, respectively. An initial study of two rice cultivars for panicle compactness and grain filling revealed an inverse correlation between the two parameters. It was further observed that the panicle compactness in Mahalaxmi was associated with a higher evolution of ethylene by the spikelets, both superior and inferior, compared with the lax-panicle Upahar. The proteomic studies revealed that the superior and inferior spikelets of Mahalaxmi differentially expressed 21 proteins that were also expressed in Upahar. However, in Upahar, only two of these proteins were differentially expressed between the superior and inferior spikelets, indicating that the metabolic activities of the spikelets occupying the superior and inferior positions on the panicle were very different in Mahalaxmi compared with those in Upahar. Among the proteins that were downregulated in the inferior spikelets compared with the superior ones in Mahalaxmi were importin-α, elongation factor 1-β and cell division control protein 48, which are essential for cell cycle progression and cell division. Low expression of these proteins might inhibit endosperm cell division in the inferior spikelets, limiting their sink capacity and leading to poor grain filling compared to that in the superior spikelets. The poor grain filling in Mahalaxmi may also be a result of the high evolution of ethylene in the inferior spikelets, which is reflected from the observation that these spikelets showed significantly higher expression of S-adenosylmethionine synthase and the gene encoding the enzyme than the superior spikelets in this cultivar, but not in Upahar; S-adenosynlmethionine synthase catalyses the synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine, the precursor of ethylene biosynthesis.