Polyamines have been reported to be involved in grain filling and they might contribute to the construction of heat resistance of some cereals. In this study, the hybrid rice ‘YLY 689’ was used to explore the possible effects of exogenous spermidine (Spd) on seed quality under high temperature during the filling stage. Rice spikes were treated with Spd or its synthesis inhibitor cyclohexylamine (CHA) after pollination, and then the rice plants were transferred to 40 °C for 5-day heat treatment. The results showed that, compared with the control under high temperature, Spd pretreatment significantly improved the germination percentage, germination index, vigor index, seedling shoot height, and dry weight of seeds harvested at 35 days after pollination, while the CHA significantly decreased the seed germination and seedling growth. Meanwhile, Spd significantly increased the peroxidase (POD) activity and decreased the malondialdehyde (MDA) content in seeds. In addition, after spraying with Spd, the endogenous content of spermidine and spermine and the expression of their synthetic genes, spermidine synthase
and spermine synthase
), significantly increased, whereas the accumulation of amylose and total starch and the expression of their related synthase genes, soluble starch synthase II-3
) and granules bound starch synthase I
), also increased to some extent. The data suggests that exogenous Spd pretreatment could alleviate the negative impacts of high temperature stress on rice seed grain filling and improve the rice seed quality to some extent, which might be partly caused by up-regulating endogenous polyamines and starch metabolism.
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