Tissue- and time-dependent metabolite profiles during early grain development under normal and high night-time temperature conditions

Nathan Abshire, Andrew L. Hauck, Harkamal Walia, Toshihiro Obata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Wheat grain development in the first few days after pollination determines the number of endosperm cells that influence grain yield potential and is susceptible to various environmental conditions, including high night temperatures (HNTs). Flag leaves and seed-associated bracts (glumes, awn, palea, and lemma) provide nutrients to the developing seed. However, the specific metabolic roles of these tissues are uncertain, especially their dynamics at different developmental stages and the time in a day. Tissue- and time-dependent metabolite profiling may hint at the metabolic roles of tissues and the mechanisms of how HNTs affect daytime metabolic status in early grain development. Results: The metabolite profiles of flag leaf, bract, seed (embryo and endosperm), and entire spike were analyzed at 12:00 (day) and 23:00 (night) on 2, 4, and 6 days after fertilization under control and HNT conditions. The metabolite levels in flag leaves and bracts showed day/night oscillations, while their behaviors were distinct between the tissues. Some metabolites, such as sucrose, cellobiose, and succinic acid, showed contrasting oscillations in the two photosynthetic tissues. In contrast, seed metabolite levels differed due to the days after fertilization rather than the time in a day. The seed metabolite profile altered earlier in the HNT than in the control condition, likely associated with accelerated grain development caused by HNT. HNT also disrupted the day/night oscillation of sugar accumulation in flag leaves and bracts. Conclusions: These results highlight distinct metabolic roles of flag leaves and bracts during wheat early seed development. The seed metabolite levels are related to the developmental stages. The early metabolic events in the seeds and the disruption of the day/night metabolic cycle in photosynthetic tissues may partly explain the adverse effects of HNT on grain yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number568
JournalBMC plant biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Bract
  • Day/night oscillation
  • Early grain development
  • Flag leaf
  • High night temperature
  • Source-sink metabolism
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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