Use of physiological parameters as fast tools to screen for drought tolerance in sugarcane
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Drought is one of the major limitations to plant productivity worldwide. Identifying suitable screening tools and quantifiable traits would facilitate the crop improvement process for drought tolerance. In the present study, we evaluated the ability of four relatively physiological parameters (variable-to-maximum chlorophyll a fluorescence ratio, Fv/Fm; estimated leaf chlorophyll content via SPAD index; leaf temperature, LT; and, leaf relative water content, RWC) to distinguish between drought tolerant and susceptible sugarcane genotypes subjected to a 90-d drought cycle. Eight field-grown genotypes were studied. By 45 d after the onset of treatments, the Fv/Fm, SPAD index and RWC of drought-stressed plants had declined significantly in all genotypes compared to values at the onset of well-watered treatments. However, the reductions were more severe in leaves of susceptible genotypes. Under drought stress, the tolerant genotypes as a group, maintained higher Fv/Fm(8%), SPAD index (15%), and RWC (16%) than susceptible genotypes. In general, LT of drought-stressed plants was higher (∼4°C) than that of well-watered plants but the relative increase was greater among drought susceptible genotypes. Under drought stress, LT of tolerant genotypes was on average 2.2°C lower than that of susceptible genotypes. The results are consistent with the tolerant-susceptible classification of these genotypes and indicate that these tools can be reliable in screening for drought tolerance, with Fv/Fm, SPAD index and LT having the added advantage of being nondestructive and easily and quickly assessed.
author list (cited authors)
de A. Silva, M., Jifon, J. L., da Silva, J., & Sharma, V.