Metabolome profiling reveals impact of water limitation on grain filling in contrasting rice genotypes

Preethi Vijayaraghavareddy, Nagashree N. Akula, Ramu S. Vemanna, Raviswamy G.H. Math, Dhananjay D. Shinde, Xinyou Yin, Paul C. Struik, Udayakumar Makarla, Sheshshayee Sreeman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Drought significantly decreases crop productivity, especially in high water consuming crops like rice. Grain filling is one of the important critical growth phases in rice and drought during this phase leads to significant reduction in yield. In this study, a comparison was made between IR64 (drought susceptible) and Apo (drought tolerant) rice genotypes to capture the response to water limitation (50% field capacity (FC)) compared with the control (100%FC) during grain filling. Plants were grown in a high-throughput phenomics facility for precise imposition of moisture stress during grain filling. Apo performed better in water limited conditions with lower reduction of photosynthetic rate and maintenance of lower leaf temperature than IR64. Days from sowing to maturity, spikelet fertility and seed weight were more impeded by water limitation in IR64 than in Apo. Unlike Apo, IR64 did not show any decrease in transpiration rate at 50%FC compared with 100%FC. Metabolomic profiling of spikelets at grain filling showed distinct effects of water limitation on accumulation of metabolites, especially in Apo. Secondary metabolism, mainly the phenylpropanoid pathway involved in scavenging mechanisms, was upregulated in Apo. Accumulation of most amino acids was significantly higher in IR64 than in Apo. Due to higher rates of photosynthesis under stress, most carbohydrates accumulated more in Apo than in IR64 at 50%FC. Sucrose transporters were significantly upregulated in water limited conditions especially in Apo. Overall, thanks to higher source capacity, more source to sink transport and better scavenging, Apo showed a lower reduction in yield than IR64.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-698
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Phenomics
  • Source-to-sink ratio
  • Spikelet metabolomics
  • Sucrose transport
  • Water limitation


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