Zinc (Zn) deficiency and heat stress during grain filling occur in a number of important wheat growing regions around the world. The changes in grain protein composition due to high temperature are well documented, but little is known about the effect of grain Zn and its interaction with heat stress. Six field experiments were conducted at sites differing in grain filling temperatures to examine these effects. Two varieties of bread wheat were grown at six rates of Zn, including foliar sprays of Zn. The relative amounts of gliadin and polymeric protein were measured by size exclusion HPLC. Applying Zn increased grain yield at three sites and altered protein quality at two of these. Foliar Zn applications doubled grain Zn concentration, reduced the proportion of gliadin and SDS-unextractable polymeric protein and increased the proportion of SDS-extractable polymeric protein. Heat stress during grain filling was associated with a high proportion of gliadin and low proportions of the polymeric protein in the grain. However, the proportions of gliadin and of SDS-extractable polymeric protein were less affected by high temperatures in grain with high Zn concentrations. The results demonstrate that Zn nutrition can alter protein composition and the effects of Zn may interact with grain filling temperatures.
Journal of Cereal Science (2008) 47 (2) 266-274 [doi: 10.1016/j.jcs.2007.04.006]