Low temperature seriously depresses seed germination and seedling growth in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). In this study, wheat plants were sprayed with abscisic acid (ABA) and fluridone (inhibitor of ABA biosynthesis) at 19 days after anthesis (DAA) and repeated at 26 DAA. The seeds of those plants were harvested, and seed germination and offspring's seedling growth under low temperature were evaluated. The results showed that exogenous ABA application decreased seed weight and slightly reduced seed set and seed number per spike. Under low temperature, seeds from ABA-treated plants showed reduced germination rate, germination index, growth of radicle and coleoptile, amylase activity and depressed starch degradation as compared with seeds from non-ABA-treated plants; however, activities of the antioxidant enzymes in both germinating seeds and seedling were enhanced from those exposed to exogenous ABA, resulting in much lowered malondialdehyde (MDA) and H2O2 concentrations and O2- production rate. In addition, the maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II was also enhanced in ABA-treated offspring's seedlings. It is concluded that exogenous ABA treatment at later grain-filling stage could be an effective approach to improve cold tolerance of the offspring during seed germinating and seedlings establishment in winter wheat.
Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, 2014, Vol 200, Issue 6, p. 467-478