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Carbon isotope discrimination, gas exchange, and water-use efficiency in crested wheatgrass clones


, : Carbon isotope discrimination, gas exchange, and water-use efficiency in crested wheatgrass clones. Crop science 31(5): 1203-1208

Carbon isotope discrimination has been proposed as a criterion in selecting for water-use efficiency (WUE) in C3 crop species. This study was conducted to determine associations among carbon isotope discrimination, leaf instantaneous WUE (WUEi), and shoot WUE (WUEs) in clones of crested wheatgrass [Agropyron desertorum (Fischer ex Link) Schultes] previously selected for low, medium, and high carbon isotope discrimination. Nine clones (three in each carbon isotope discrimination class) were grown in a greenhouse in pots weighed every third day and brought to either 0.03 or 0.12 kg kg-1 gravimetric water content. Leaf gas exchange rates and water potentials were determined at 2-wk intervals until plant harvest at 12 wk. Under drought, the ranking of carbon isotope discrimination classes for stomatal conductance agreed with previous and present carbon isotope discrimination classifications, and midday leaf water potentials averaged approximately 0.4 MPa lower in the low than in the medium or high carbon isotope discrimination class. Shoot dry weight and carbon isotope discrimination decreased with drought and were correlated positively under well-watered conditions (r = 0.77 , df = 7, P < 0.05), but not under drought. Although carbon isotope discrimination and leaf intercellular CO2 concentration of individual clones were correlated positively at each water level the expected differences between, carbon isotope discrimination classes in carbon isotope discrimination, WUEi9 and WUEs were obtained only under drought. A lower carbon isotope discrimination in low than high carbon isotope class under drought was associated with greater shoot dry weight, WUEs9, and WUEi. Across water levels, large negative correlations were found between carbon isotope discrimination and WUEi (r = -0.95 , df = 16, P < 0.01) or WUEs (r = -0.89 , df = 16). These results indicate that selection for low carbon isotope discrimination will improve water-use efficiency in crested wheatgrass under drought.

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