4th International Crop Science Congress 2004
Increasing cereal yield potential by modifying developmental traits
María E. Otegui1 and Gustavo A. Slafer2
1 Associate Professor, Faculty of Agronomy UBA-CONICET, Av. San Martín 4453,
Ciudad de Buenos Aires (C1417DSE), Argentina, www.agro.uba.ar,
2 Research Professor ICREA (Catalonian Institution for Research and Advanced Studies),
Department of Crop Production and Forestry, University of Lleida,
Centre UdL-IRTA, Av. Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Spain,

Abstract
On-farm grain yield of most grain crops has paralleled the improvement in grain yield potential, which has been mainly associated with an increase in the number of harvestable grains. A reduction in plant height (most cereal species) and tassel size (maize), with the concomitant improvement in assimilate availability for the growing spike, have been key traits for enhancing kernel number. The benefits of these traits, however, seem no longer useful for improving grain yield, and new molecular technologies are still far from giving a good explanation of the causal relationships between genes and the phenotype of complex traits like grain yield. In this paper we briefly reviewed (i) the importance of improving yield potential for further increasing actual yields in a range of conditions, and (ii) the significance of considering physiological attributes for achieving this goal. We finally discuss recent research on two developmental traits as tools for further raising yield potential in cereals. These are the particular extent of the stem elongation phase in wheat and the synchrony in the emergence of silks within ears in maize.

Intrinsic Earliness Bibliography