2015, DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12935
Heat waves imposed during early pod development in soybean (Glycine max) cause significant yield loss despite a rapid recovery from oxidative stress
Matthew H. Siebers, Craig R. Yendrek, David Drag, Anna M. Locke, Lorena Rios Acosta, Andrew D. B. Leakey, Elizabeth A. Ainsworth, Carl J. Bernacchi, and Donald R. Ort
Heat waves already have a large impact on crops and are predicted to become more intense and more frequent in the future. In this study, heat waves were imposed on soybean using infrared heating technology in a fully open‐air field experiment. Five separate heat waves were applied to field‐grown soybean (Glycine max) in central Illinois, three in 2010 and two in 2011. Thirty years of historical weather data from Illinois were analyzed to determine the length and intensity of a regionally realistic heat wave resulting in experimental heat wave treatments during which day and night canopy temperatures were elevated 6 °C above ambient for 3 days. Heat waves were applied during early or late reproductive stages to determine whether and when heat waves had an impact on carbon metabolism and seed yield. By the third day of each heat wave, net photosynthesis (A), specific leaf weight (SLW), and leaf total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration (TNC) were decreased, while leaf oxidative stress was increased. However, A, SLW, TNC, and measures of oxidative stress were no different than the control ca. 12 h after the heat waves ended, indicating rapid physiological recovery from the high‐temperature stress. That end of season seed yield was reduced (~10%) only when heat waves were applied during early pod developmental stages indicates the yield loss had more to do with direct impacts of the heat waves on reproductive process than on photosynthesis. Soybean was unable to mitigate yield loss after heat waves given during late reproductive stages. This study shows that short high‐temperature stress events that reduce photosynthesis and increase oxidative stress resulted in significant losses to soybean production in the Midwest, U.S. The study also suggests that to mitigate heat wave‐induced yield loss, soybean needs improved reproductive and photosynthetic tolerance to high but increasingly common temperatures.