Screening of Bread Wheat Genotypes for Drought Tolerance Using Phenotypic and Proline Analyses

Mwadzingeni, Learnmore; Shimelis, Hussein; Tesfay, Samson; Tsilo, Toi J.
August 2016
Frontiers in Plant Science;8/25/2016, p1
Academic Journal
Drought stress is one of the leading constraints to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production globally. Breeding for drought tolerance using novel genetic resources is an important mitigation strategy. This study aimed to determine the level of drought tolerance among diverse bread wheat genotypes using agronomic traits and proline analyses and to establish correlation of proline content and agronomic traits under drought-stress conditions in order to select promising wheat lines for breeding. Ninety-six diverse genotypes including 88 lines from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)'s heat and drought nurseries, and eight local checks were evaluated under greenhouse and field conditions during 2014/15 and 2015/16 making four testing environments. The following phenotypic traits were collected after stress imposed during the heading to anthesis period: the number of days to heading (DTH), days to maturity (DTM), productive tiller number (TN), plant height (PH), spike length (SL), spikelet per spike (SPS), kernels per spike (KPS), thousand kernel weight (TKW) and grain yield (GY) and proline content (PC). Analysis of variance, Pearson's correlation coefficient, principal component and stress tolerance index were calculated. Genotypes with high yield performance under stressed and optimum conditions maintained high values for yield components. Proline content significantly increased under stress, but weakly correlated with agronomic traits under both optimal and water limited conditions. The positive correlation observed between grain yield and proline content under-drought stress conditions provides evidence that proline accumulation might ultimately be considered as a tool for effective selection of drought tolerant genotypes. The study selected 12 genotypes with high grain yields under drought stressed conditions and favorable adaptive traits useful for breeding.


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