Oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) yield is strongly decreased by water deficit, and crop-management solutions are urgently required considering the emerging difficulties in breeding for drought-tolerant varieties. Film-forming antitranspirants (polymers) are agrochemicals that, applied to the crop canopy, mechanically block the stomata and decrease canopy transpiration. In this study, the drought-protection efficacy of an adaxial-surface application at the flowering stage of two film-forming treatments (poly-1-p-menthene and di-1-p-menthene) was investigated in pot-grown, droughted oilseed rape over two glasshouse experiments. Over the drought period, the two compounds reduced leaf stomatal conductance (P < 0.001), and as the soil moisture deficit increased, they sustained carbon assimilation and improved water-use efficiency with differing efficacy. Following the antitranspirant treatments, ABA concentration in leaves and reproductive organs was severely reduced and this was accompanied by significant improvements in leaf and flower–pod water potential. Drought significantly decreased the seed dry matter production of oilseed rape plants, by 39% on average. The treatments significantly increased seed dry matter by 13% (poly-1-p-menthene) and 17% (di-1-p-menthene), on average, compared with the unsprayed droughted plants, as a result of a significant increase in number of pods per plant, by 11% and 13%, respectively. The results suggest that film-forming compounds may be a useful crop-management tool to avoid severe drought-induced yield losses in oilseed rape by improving water-use efficiency and plant water status, thus alleviating ABA signalling under water deficit.
- abscisic acid, canola, drought, gas-exchange, plant water status
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- Canopy application of polymers over the reproductive phase enhances yield components and yield-related physiological traits of water stressed oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.)
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