Heat Stress During Gametogenesis Irreversibly Damages Female Reproductive Organ in Rice
Impa, Somayanda M (TTU)
Jagadish, S. V. Krishna (TTU)
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Heat stress during gametogenesis leads to spikelet sterility. To ascertain the role of female reproductive organ (pistil), two rice genotypes N22 and IR64 with contrasting heat stress responses were exposed to control (30 °C) and heat stress (38 °C and 40 °C) during megasporogenesis. Anatomical observations of ovule revealed greater disappearance of megaspore mother cell and nuclei at early stages, and during later stages mature embryo sac without female germ unit, improper positioning of nuclei, and shrunken embryo sac was observed in the sensitive IR64. Under heat stress, a decrease in sugar and starch, increase in H2O2 and malondialdehyde with lower antioxidant enzyme activities were recorded in pistils of both N22 and IR64. Lower accumulation of TCA cycle metabolites and amino acids were noticed in IR64 pistils under heat stress at gametogenesis, whereas N22 exhibited favorable metabolite profles. At heading, however, N22 pistils had higher carbohydrate accumulation and better ROS homeostasis, suggesting higher recovery after heat stress exposure. In summary, the results indicate that heat stress during megasporogenesis leads to irre‑ versible anatomical and physiological changes in pistil and alters metabolic signatures leading to increased spikelet sterility in rice. Mechanisms identifed for enhanced heat tolerance in pistil can help in developing rice varieties that are better adapted to future hotter climate.