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Phenomics of rice early vigour and drought response: Are sugar related and morphogenetic traits relevant?

Maria-Camila Rebolledo1, Michael Dingkuhn12, Anne Clément-Vidal1, Lauriane Rouan1 and Delphine Luquet1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), UMR AGAP, F-34398, Montpellier, France

2 CESD Department, International Rice Research Institute, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Rice 2012, 5:22  doi:10.1186/1939-8433-5-22

Published: 20 August 2012



Early vigour (biomass accumulation) is a useful but complex trait in rainfed rice (Oryza sativa L). Little is known on trade-offs with drought tolerance. This study explored the relevance of (sugar) metabolic and morphogenetic traits to describe the genetic diversity of rice early vigour and its phenotypic plasticity under drought conditions. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to characterize on a panel of 43 rice genotypes plant morphogenesis and sugar concentration in expanded (source) and expanding (sink) leaves.


Across genotypes in control treatment, leaf starch concentration was negatively correlated with organogenetic development rate (DR, defined as leaf appearance rate on main stem). Genotypes with small leaves had high DR and tiller number but low leaf starch concentration. Under drought, vigorous genotypes showed stronger growth reduction. Starch concentration decreased in source leaves, by contrast with soluble sugars and with that observed in sink leaves. Accordingly, genotypes were grouped in three clusters differing in constitutive vigour, starch storage and growth maintenance under drought showing a trade off between constitutive vigour and drought tolerance.


It was therefore suggested that non structural carbohydrates, particularly starch, were relevant markers of early vigour. Their relevance as markers of growth maintenance under drought needs to be further explored. Results are discussed regarding novel process based traits to be introduced in the GRiSP (Global Rice Science Partnership) phenotyping network.

Sativa rice; Early vigour; Drought regulation; Development rate; Leaf size; Non structural carbohydrates