Strategies for improving crop water use efficiency: screening and characterization of drought tolerant and high-yielding genotypes.
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Farmers are challenged constantly to adjust crop production practices to minimize the impact of biotic stresses that limit crop yields and quality. Water deficit is the most dominant yield-limiting environmental factor in Texas croplands. Statewide crop production could be significantly increased and become more stable with the use of improved drought-tolerant cultivars, as this would reduce the negative impacts of water deficits on yield and quality.The main area of research to be targeted by this project is the characterization of water stress responses of crop cultivars exposed to soil water deficits, with primary aim at the interaction of drought tolerance and plant productivity. The main crops to be investigated related to drought tolerance and productivity are cotton and grain sorghum.This new Hatch project proposal aims at developing an advanced phenotyping tool to be used by breeding programs to improve the selection of best performing genotypes. The development of this phenotyping tool will focus on identifying high yielding and drought tolerant genotypes included in field breeding tests by integrating crop physiology, remote sensing, and crop simulation modeling.The objectives of this project are:Continue characterizing the water economy and productivity of selected genotypes of economically important crop species such as cotton, grain sorghum or energy cane to furthering the understanding and identification of critical physiological/morphological parameters influencing (controlling) their water economy and productivity with potential applicability in the development of a practical and effective of high-throughput phenotyping tool.Development and validation of an advanced mechanistic crop model to simulate crop growth, water use, and yield of economically important crop species such as cotton, grain sorghum or energy cane to support the development of a high-throughput phenotyping tool that integrates crop physiology and remote sensing.Development and validation of a practical and effective advanced phenotyping tool to identify genotypes with superior yield and drought tolerance performance from large field-grown germplasm pools of economically important crop species such as cotton, grain sorghum or energy cane based on the integration of crop physiology fundamentals, remote sensing data, and mechanistic crop simulation modeling.