Phenotyping for nitrogen use efficiency: Rice genotypes differ in N-responsive germination, oxygen consumption, seed urease activities, root growth, crop duration, and yield at low N

The biological improvement of fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is hampered by the poor characterization of the phenotype and genotype for crop N response and NUE. In an attempt to identify phenotypic traits for N-response and NUE in the earliest stages of plant growth, we analyzed the N-responsive germination, respiration, urease activities, and root/shoot growth of 21 Indica genotypes of rice (Oryza sativa var. indica). We found that N delays germination from 0 to 12 h in a genotype-dependent and source-dependent manner, especially with urea and nitrate. We identified contrasting groups of fast germinating genotypes such as Aditya, Nidhi, and Swarnadhan, which were also least delayed by N and slow germinating genotypes such as Panvel 1, Triguna, and Vikramarya, which were also most delayed by N. Oxygen uptake measurements in the seeds of contrasting genotypes revealed that they were affected by N source in accordance with germination rates, especially with urea.

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