Heat stress at reproductive stage disrupts leaf carbohydrate metabolism, impairs reproductive function, and severely reduces seed yield in lentil
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Rising temperatures or global warming will be detrimental for various crops. Moreover, because of increasing demand for lentil (LensculinarisL.)grains,thereisaneedtobroadentheadaptation of this crop into warmer climes.Hence,a studywas conducted to evaluate the effects of high temperatures (>32/20oC) during reproductive growth on performance of lentil and to probe the mechanisms associated with reproductive failures. Three lentil genotypes, viz., LL699, LL931, and LL1122, were grown in pots at two sowing dates: (1) the normal sowing time (NS) in November so that day/night temperatures during the reproductive stage were below 32/20°C; and (2) late-sown (LS) in February so that temperatures during the reproductive stage were above 32/20°C. The plants were fully irrigated during both the sowing situations. InLSplants,thephenologywasaccelerated,leadingtosubstantial reductioninbiomass,flowers,andpods,accompaniedbymarked shortening of flowering period and podding duration, causing decreased seed yield. At the peak flowering stage (average temp. >32/23oC), the leaves of the LS plants had significantly lowerrelativeleafwatercontentandlowerstomatalconductance than NS plants at the same stage, indicating that the late sowing induced both water stress and heat stress. In LS plants, reproductive function was markedly reduced in all genotypes, causing increasedpodabortion.TheleavesofLSplantsshowedincreased damage to membranes, chlorosis, decreased photochemical efficiency, with an associated reduction in sucrose synthesis and increaseinitshydrolysis,comparedwiththeNSplants.Heatstress, in combination with intermittent water stress during the reproductive phase in the LS plants, was extremely detrimental for all three lentil genotypes, with only minor differences among them. Controlled-environmentstudies,wheretheplantsweresubjected to high temperatures (33/15°C, 35/20°C) during reproductive growth, also validated the detrimental effects of heat stress on studied traits, similar to outdoor conditions.