Plant hormone interactions: innovative targets for crop breeding and management.
This study investigated whether and how the interaction between abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene is involved in the regulation of rice (Oryza sativa L.) spikelet sterility when subjected to water stress during meiosis. Two rice cultivars, HA-3 (drought-resistant) and WY-7 (drought-susceptible), were used and subjected to well-watered and water-stressed (WS) treatments during meiosis (15–2 days before heading). Leaf water potentials of both cultivars markedly decreased during the day as a result of the WS treatment, but panicle water potentials remained constant. The percentage of sterile spikelets in WS plants was increased by 49.7% for WJ-7 but only 12.7% for HA-3. ABA, ethylene, and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid were all enhanced in spikelets by the water stress, but ethylene was enhanced more than ABA in WY-7 when compared with that in HA-3. Spikelet sterility was significantly reduced when ABA or amino-ethoxyvinylglycine, an inhibitor of ethylene synthesis, was applied to the panicles of WS plants at the early meiosis stage. Application of ethephon, an ethylene-releasing agent, or fluridone, an inhibitor of ABA synthesis, had the opposite effect, and sterility was increased. The results suggest that antagonistic interactions between ABA and ethylene may be involved in mediating the effect of water stress on spikelet fertility. A higher ratio of ABA to ethylene would be a physiologic trait of rice adaptation to water stress.