Investigating The Impact Of Canopy Architecture On The Radiation Use Efficiency And Yield Of Sugar Beet

Tillier, Lucy (2023) Investigating The Impact Of Canopy Architecture On The Radiation Use Efficiency And Yield Of Sugar Beet. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Current sugar beet varieties vary widely in their canopy architecture; some have a distinctively prostrate canopy angle whilst others are much more upright. Radiation use efficiency (RUE) is the amount of biomass accumulated per unit of light intercepted by the crop. In crops such as rice and wheat, where canopy architecture has been quantified, canopy angle has been shown to significantly influence light interception and RUE. This project quantifies canopy architecture and assesses its effect on RUE and yield of sugar beet.

A combination of controlled environment and field experiments were conducted to classify varieties into canopy types according to petiole angle and assess the impact of canopy angle on light interception, photosynthesis and biomass accumulation in the crop. Prostrate canopy types were demonstrated as having the greatest canopy expansion rate and to intercept more light across the season than an upright or intermediate canopy type. However, despite intercepting the most light, this did not lead to the greatest sugar yield. This research shows evidence that prostrate canopy types have lower rates of photosynthesis, and that the canopy is acclimated to shaded conditions indicative of the overlapping nature of the leaves within and between rows.

Upright canopy types had the greatest RUE of total biomass later in the season and could be suited to a later harvest due to potentially more efficient light interception at lower sun angles. Furthermore, the upright canopy angle was demonstrated as advantageous to the crop during hot and droughted weather conditions, when it retained more of its canopy.

Intermediate canopy types had the greatest photosynthetic potential under optimal conditions. This trait can be associated with high carbon assimilation throughout the summer months in the absence of significant plant stress leading to high total biomass RUE. The Intermediate 2 variety also showed favourable biomass partitioning to the roots later in the season and this also resulted in high sugar yields. However, the Intermediate 1 variety, with similar canopy architecture yielded less and had a lower RUE. This variety was from a different breeder which may indicate that genetic traits, other than canopy architecture, are also important in determining yield and RUE.

To investigate the relationship between canopy angle, RUE and yield a canopy manipulation experiment was conducted. The high yielding intermediate variety was made upright, prostrate or left as a control. Canopy manipulation had no effect on final sugar yield and the upright treatment had a higher RUE in 2022 which was a result of less proportional canopy loss and better tolerance during the drought between July and September 2022. Therefore, biomass partitioning, and high levels of photosynthesis are important traits to select for high RUE and sugar yields. However, further research is required to understand the interaction between canopy angle and RUE in winter months and water stressed conditions.

Overall, the findings from this have shown that sugar beet varieties can be classified into canopy types according to their petiole angle. Canopy angle is not as important as photosynthetic rate and biomass partitioning for high RUE and sugar yields. The impact of canopy angle on drought tolerance and harvest timing should be explored by breeders in the future.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Sparkes, D L
Murchie, E H
Keywords: Canopy architecture, Yield, Radiation use efficiency, RUE, Canopy expansion, Leaf area index, Sugar beet, Photosynthesis, plant breeding
Subjects: S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 73604
Depositing User: Tillier, Lucy
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2023 04:40

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