Nitrogen fertilizer application affects lodging resistance by altering secondary cell wall synthesis in japonica rice (Oryza sativa).
Stem mechanical strength is an important agricultural quantitative trait that is closely related to lodging resistance in rice, which is known to be reduced by fertilizer with higher levels of nitrogen. To understand the mechanism that regulates stem mechanical strength in response to nitrogen, we analysed stem morphology, anatomy, mechanical properties, cell wall components, and expression of cell wall-related genes, in two varieties of japonica rice, namely, Wuyunjing23 (lodging-resistant variety) and W3668 (lodging-susceptible variety). The results showed that higher nitrogen fertilizer increased the lodging index in both varieties due to a reduction in breaking strength and bending stress, and these changes were larger in W3668. Cellulose content decreased slightly under higher nitrogen fertilizer, whereas lignin content reduced remarkably. Histochemical staining revealed that high nitrogen application decreased lignin deposition in the secondary cell wall of the sclerenchyma cells and vascular bundle cells compared with the low nitrogen treatments, while it did not alter the pattern of cellulose deposition in these cells in both Wuyunjing23 and W3668. In addition, the expression of the genes involved in lignin biosynthesis, OsPAL, OsCoMT, Os4CL3, OsCCR, OsCAD2, OsCAD7, OsCesA4, and OsCesA7, were also down-regulated under higher nitrogen conditions at the early stage of culm growth. These results suggest that the genes involved in lignin biosynthesis are down-regulated by higher nitrogen fertilizer, which causes lignin deficiency in the secondary cell walls and the weakening of mechanical tissue structure. Subsequently, this results in these internodes with reduced mechanical strength and poor lodging resistance.
Zhang, W; Wu, L; Ding, Y; Yao, X; Wu, X; Weng, F; Li, G; Liu, Z; Tang, S; Ding, C; Wang, S
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