Phenotypic variation in photosynthetic traits in wheat grown under field versus glasshouse conditions
Recognition of the untapped potential of photosynthesis to improve crop yields has spurred research to identify targets for breeding. The CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco is characterized by a number of inefficiencies, and frequently limits carbon assimilation at the top of the canopy, representing a clear target for wheat improvement. Two bread wheat lines with similar genetic backgrounds and contrasting in vivo maximum carboxylation activity of Rubisco per unit leaf nitrogen (Vc,max,25/Narea) determined using high-throughput phenotyping methods were selected for detailed study from a panel of 80 spring wheat lines. Detailed phenotyping of photosynthetic traits in the two lines using glasshouse-grown plants showed no difference in Vc,max,25/Narea determined directly via in vivo and in vitro methods. Detailed phenotyping of glasshouse-grown plants of the 80 wheat lines also showed no correlation between photosynthetic traits measured via high-throughput phenotyping of field-grown plants. Our findings suggest that the complex interplay between traits determining crop productivity and the dynamic environments experienced by field-grown plants needs to be considered in designing strategies for effective wheat crop yield improvement when breeding for particular environments.