CLEMSON –A Clemson University professor’s article about research related to how wheat pollen reacts to heat stress has resulted in an article published in the scientific journal Plant, Cell and Environment.

Sruthi Narayanan, a professor in the Clemson Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, checks wheat plants.

Sruthi Narayanan, a professor in the Clemson Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, checks wheat plants as part of a study to determine  how wheat pollen reacts to stress.
Image Credit: Clemson College of Agriculture Forestry and Life Sciences

“This study provided us with important information that can be used for improving seed formation and developing heat-tolerant wheat varieties,” said Sruthi Narayanan of the Clemson Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

High temperature creates major stress for wheat crops around the world, Narayanan said. Research has shown that high temperatures greatly reduce wheat yields. More such yield decreases are expected in the future because of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts average global temperatures will increase by 0.5 to 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Climate change is expected to have a strong impact on winter wheat production as about every 2-degree increase above an average temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit decreases wheat yield by about 10 percent.

Narayanan and her team measured 89 pollen lipid species under optimum and high day and/or night temperatures using the analytical technique, electrospray ionization‐tandem mass spectrometry in wheat plants. Lipids are one of the four major molecular components of biological organisms. The other three components are proteins, sugars and nucleic acids.

This study characterized alterations in lipids found in wheat pollen under high temperature conditions and identified pollen lipid species and metabolic changes that are related to high temperature adaption. The study generated important information for identifying biomarkers for selecting heat tolerant wheat genotypes.

In addition to Narayanan, other researchers writing the article, “Alterations in wheat pollen lipidome during high day and night temperature stress,” are P.V. Vara Prasad and Ruth Welti, both of Kansas State University. The article can be found at

Narayanan is continuing her lipid research on other species with a goal of improving drought and heat tolerance in field crops. Her research program focuses on developing climate-resilient crop varieties in an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change on crop production.