Physiological constraints to seed growth in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

J.W. Warringa

Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


<br/> <p>The yield of a seed crop of perennial ryegrass varies between I and 2 Mg/ha. This variation is caused by variation in the number of seeds that reach an adequate dry weight. On average 70 % of the seeds present before harvest and cleaning are not recovered because of their low weight. This suggests that seed filling and not seed set determines to a large extent seed yield. Factors influencing seed filling were studied on spaced plants in the greenhouse.<p>Reducing the light intensity after anthesis from 115 % to 24 % (1.1 MJ/m2) showed that the amount of carbon assimilates in the reproductive tiller was not limiting to seed filling. Seed yield per ear was reduced by only 14 % and average seed dry weight by only 4 %. Although the amount of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC in the stem + rachis was strongly reduced at 24 % light, it could have supported an extra 37 % of seed yield.<p>New vegetative tillers that developed after anthesis did not reduce seed filling and seed yield per ear because of the large amount of WSC reserves in the stem. Regrowth of tillers cut at anthesis strongly reduced WSC stem reserves.<p>The large variation of seed dry weight within the ear could for about 60 % be attributed to differences in rate of growth and for about 30 % to differences in duration of growth. The differences in growth rate were determined by the ovule dry weight at anthesis and not by differences in relative growth rate. The availability of assimilates and the accumulation of starch did not differ between seeds within the ear. Differences in the duration of growth were mainly caused by differences in time of anthesis, not ripening. The interaction between seeds in the ear was weak; removal of <em>spikelets or</em> seeds within a spikelet did not strongly affect the remaining seeds. Apparently processes in the seed itself mainly determine seed filling and seed yield of perennial ryegrass. Factors controlling ear development determine the ovule dry weight at anthesis and thus to a large extent the variation in final seed dry weight within the ear.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Struik, Paul, Promotor
  • de Visser, A.J.C., Promotor, External person
Award date24 Feb 1997
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789054856337
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • lolium
  • plant physiology
  • plant development
  • fruits
  • ripening
  • formation
  • distribution
  • nutrient reserves

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