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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01889

Source-sink relationships in crop plants and their influence on yield development and nutritional quality

 Millicent R. Smith1*,  Idupulapati M. Rao2, 3 and Andrew Merchant1
  • 1School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia
  • 2International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
  • 3Plant Polymer Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, United States

For seed crops, yield is the cumulative result of both source and sink strength for photoassimilates and nutrients over the course of seed development. Source strength for photoassimilates is dictated by both net photosynthetic rate and the rate of photoassimilate remobilisation from source tissues. This review focuses on the current understanding of how the source-sink relationship in crop plants influences rates of yield development and the resilience of yield and nutritional quality. We present the limitations of current approaches to accurately measure sink strength and emphasise differences in coordination between photosynthesis and yield under varying environmental conditions. We highlight the potential to exploit source-sink dynamics, in order to improve yields and emphasise the importance of resilience in yield and nutritional quality with implications for plant breeding strategies.

Keywords: abiotic stress, Crop yield potential, environment, Harvest index (HI), Photosynthesis, yield

Received: 22 Aug 2018; Accepted: 06 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Jairo A. Palta, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

Reviewed by:

Georgia Ntatsi, Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, Hellenic Agricultural Organisation (HAO), Greece
EDMUNDO ACEVEDO, Universidad de Chile, Chile  

Copyright: © 2018 Smith, Rao and Merchant. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Millicent R. Smith, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, 2006, New South Wales, Australia, millicent.r.smith@gmail.com