Skip to main content

Wheat seedlings growth response to water deficiency and how it correlates with adult plant tolerance to drought

  • D. DODIG (a1), M. ZORIĆ (a2), M. JOVIĆ (a3), V. KANDIĆ (a1), R. STANISAVLJEVIĆ (a4) and G. ŠURLAN-MOMIROVIĆ (a5)...

Improving resistance to water and osmotic stresses at the seedling stage is becoming a much more important target for wheat breeders due to an increase in the frequency and severity of drought occurrences at the crop establishment and tillering phases in many wheat growing areas of the world. Ninety-six diverse wheat genotypes were laboratory tested for germination and growth response under osmotic stress induced by polyethylene glycol (PEG). Germination percentage, mean germination time, coleoptile length, shoot length and shoot growth rate were compared under stress (−0·4 MPa) and control (0·0 MPa) conditions. The same genotypes were previously grown in field trials exposed to drought stress during the anthesis and/or grain filling growth stage along with control (optimum) conditions. Grain yield (GY) and 19 other traits of agronomic importance (earliness, stem-related traits, number of kernels, mass of 1000 grains, etc.) were recorded. All seedling traits under PEG-induced water stress showed the highest relationship with the stem and stem-related traits of adult plants. To study the correlation between stress tolerance in the seedling and reproductive stages, three stress indices (tolerance index (TOL), stress susceptibility index (SSI) and stress tolerance index (STI)) for the seedling traits and GY under pre- and post-anthesis drought stress were calculated, based on a mean trait value obtained under stress and the corresponding trait value under control conditions. The ranking of the genotypes based on TOL and STI from seedling traits was found in most cases to be significantly correlated with the ranking of genotypes based on TOL and STI from GY, respectively.

Corresponding author
* To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:
Hide All
Blum A. (1988). Plant Breeding for Stress Environments. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Blum A. (1996). Crop responses to drought and the interpretation of adaptation. Plant Growth Regulation 20, 135148.
Blum A. (1998). Improving wheat grain filling under stress by stem reserve mobilisation. Euphytica 100, 7783.
Blum A., Sinmena B. & Ziv O. (1980). An evaluation of seed and seedling drought tolerance screening tests in wheat. Euphytica 29, 727736.
Blum A., Ramaiah S., Kanemasu E. T. & Paulsen G. M. (1990). Wheat recovery from drought stress at the tillering stage of development. Field Crops Research 24, 6785.
Borrell A. K., Incoll L. D. & Dalling M. J. (1993). The influence of the Rht1 and Rht2 alleles on the deposition and use of stem reserve in wheat. Annals of Botany 71, 317326.
Butler J. D., Byrne P. F., Mohammadi V., Chapman P. L. & Haley S. D. (2005). Agronomic performance of Rht alleles in a spring wheat population across a range of moisture levels. Crop Science 45, 939947.
Calderini D. F., Reynolds M. P. & Slafer G. A. (1999). Genetic gains in wheat yield and main physiological changes associated with them during the 20th century. In Wheat: Ecology and Physiology of Yield Determination (Eds Satorre E. H. & Slafer G. A.), pp. 351377. New York: Food Products Press.
Chapman S. C. (2008). Use of crop models to understand genotype by environment interactions for drought in real-world and simulated plant breeding trials. Euphytica 161, 195208.
Dhanda S. S., Sethi G. S. & Behl R. K. (2004). Indices of drought tolerance in wheat genotypes at early stages of plant growth. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 190, 612.
Dodig D., Zorić M., Knežević D., King S. R. & Šurlan-Momirović G. (2008). Genotype×environment interaction for wheat yield in different drought stress conditions and agronomic traits suitable for selection. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 59, 536545.
Dodig D., Zorić M., Kobiljski B., Šurlan-Momirović G. & Quarrie S. A. (2010). Assessing drought tolerance and regional patterns of genetic diversity among spring and winter bread wheat using simple sequence repeats and phenotypic data. Crop and Pasture Science 61, 812824.
Dodig D., Barnes J., Kobiljski B. & Quarrie S. (2011). Traits associated with relocation of resources during grain filling in defoliated bread wheat varieties: phenotypic and genetic analyses. In Book of Abstracts of the Annual Main Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology, 1–4 July 2011, Glasgow, UK (Ed. Society for Experimental Biology), p. 193. London: Society for Experimental Biology.
Duggan B. L., Richards R. A. & Van Herwaarden A. F. (2005). Agronomic evaluation of a tiller inhibition gene (tin) in wheat. II. Growth and partitioning of assimilate. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 56, 179186.
Ellis R. H. & Roberts E. H. (1981). The quantification of ageing and survival in orthodox seeds. Seed Science and Technology 9, 373409.
FAO (2003). Agriculture, Food and Water. A Contribution to the World Water Development Report. Rome: FAO.
Fernandez G. C. J. (1992). Effective selection criteria for assessing stress tolerance. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Adaptation of Vegetables and Other Food Crops in Temperature and Water Stress (Ed. Kuo C. G.), pp. 257270. Tainan, Taiwan: Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre.
Fischer R. A. & Maurer R. (1978). Drought resistance in spring wheat cultivars: I. Grain yield responses. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 29, 897912.
Fischer R. A. & Turner N. C. (1978). Plant productivity in the arid and semiarid zones. Annual Review of Plant Physiology 29, 277317.
González Á. & Ayerbe L. (2011). Response of coleoptiles to water deficit: growth, turgor maintenance and osmotic adjustment in barley plants (Hordeum vulgare L.). Agricultural Sciences 2, 159166.
Grzesiak M. T., Marcińska I., Janowiak F., Rzepka A. & Hura T. (2012). The relationship between seedling growth and grain yield under drought conditions in maize and triticale genotypes. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 34, 17571764.
Iqbal N., Masood A. & Khan N. A. (2012). Analyzing the significance of defoliation in growth, photosynthetic compensation and source-sink relations. Photosynthetica 50, 161170.
Jones P., Keane E. M. & Osborne B. A. (1998). Effects of alien cytoplasmic variation on carbon assimilation and productivity in wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany 49, 15191528.
Kobiljski B., Quarrie S. A., Denčić S., Kirby J. & Ivegeš M. (2002). Genetic diversity of the Novi Sad wheat core collection revealed by microsatellites. Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters 7, 685694.
Kruepl C., Hoad S., Davies K., Bertholdsson N. O. & Paolini R. (2006). Weed competitiveness. In Handbook Cereal Variety Testing for Organic Low Input Agriculture (Eds Donner D. & Osman A.), pp. W1W16. COST860-SUSVAR. Denmark: Risø National Laboratory.
Landjeva S., Korzun V., Stoimenova E., Truberg B., Ganeva G. & Börner A. (2008). The contribution of the gibberellin-insesitive semi-dwarfing (Rht) genes to genetic variation in wheat seedling growth in response to osmotic stress. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 146, 275286.
MacCaferri M., Sanguineti M. C., Demontis A., El-Ahmed A., Del Moral L. G., Maalouf F., Nachit M., Nserallah N., Ouabbou H., Rhouma S., Royo C., Villegas D. & Tuberosa R. (2011). Association mapping in durum wheat grown across a broad range of water regimes. Journal of Experimental Botany 62, 409438.
Mastrangelo A. M., Mazzucotelli E., Guerra D., De Vita P. & Cattivelli L. (2012). Improvement of drought resistance in crops: from conventional breeding to genomic selection. In Crop Stress and its Management: Perspectives and Strategies (Eds Venkateswarlu B., Shanker A. K., Shanker C. & Maheswari M.), pp. 225259. New York: Springer.
Matsui T., Inanaga S., Shimotashiro T., An P. & Sugimoto Y. (2002). Morphological characters related to varietal differences in tolerance to deep sowing in wheat. Plant Production Science 5, 169174.
Michel B. E. & Kaufmann M. R. (1973). The Osmotic potential of polyethylene glycol 6000. Plant Physiology 51, 914916.
Morgan J. M. (1988). The use of coleoptile responses to water stress to differentiate wheat genotypes for osmoregulation, growth and yield. Annals of Botany 62, 193198.
Moud A. M. & Maghsoudi K. (2008). Application of coleoptile growth response method to differentiate osmoregulation capability of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars. Research Journal of Agronomy 2, 3643.
Pantuwan G., Fukai S., Cooper M., Rajatasereekul S. & O'Toole J. C. (2002). Yield response of rice genotypes to different types of drought under rainfed lowlands: I. Grain yield and yield components. Field Crops Research 73, 153168.
Parry M. A. J., Flexas J. & Medrano H. (2005). Prospects for crop production under drought: research priorities and future directions. Annals of Applied Biology 147, 211226.
Pfeiffer W. H., Trethowan R. M., Van Ginkel M., Ortiz-Monasterio I. & Rajaram S. (2005). Breeding for abiotic stress tolerance in wheat. In Abiotic Stresses: Plant Resistance through Breeding and Molecular Approaches (Eds Ashraf M. & Harris P. J. C.), pp. 401489. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
Prasad P. V. V., Pisipati S. R., Momčilović I. & Ristić Z. (2011). Independent and combined effects of high temperature and drought stress during grain filling on plant yield and chloroplast EF-Tu expression in spring wheat. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 197, 430441.
Qi M. Q. & Redmann R. E. (1993). Seed germination and seedling survival of C3 and C4 grasses under water stress. Journal of Arid Environments 24, 227285.
R Development Core Team (2013). R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Reference Index. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Rebetzke J. G., Richards R. A., Sirault X. R. R. & Morrison A. D. (2004). Genetic analysis of coleoptiles length and diameter in wheat. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55, 733743.
Rebetzke G. J., Ellis M. H., Bonnett D. G. & Richards R. A. (2007). Molecular mapping of genes for coleoptile growth in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Theoretical and Applied Genetics 114, 11731183.
Regan K. L., Whan B. R. & Turner N. C. (1993). Evaluation of chemical desiccation as a selection technique for drought resistance in a dryland wheat breeding program. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 44, 16831691.
Reynolds M. P., Mujeeb-Kazi A. & Sawkins M. (2005). Prospects for utilising plant-adaptive mechanisms to improve wheat and other crops in drought- and salinity-prone environments. Annals of Applied Biology 146, 239259.
Rizza F., Badeck F. W., Cattivelli L., Lidestri O., Di Fonzo N. & Stanca A. M. (2004). Use of a water stress index to identify barley genotypes adapted to rainfed and irrigated conditions. Crop Science 44, 21272137.
Rosielle A. A. & Hamblin J. (1981). Theoretical aspects of selection for yield in stress and non-stress environments. Crop Science 21, 943946.
Rosyara U. R., Ghimire A. A., Subedi S. & Sharma R. C. (2009). Variation in South Asian wheat germplasm for seedling drought tolerance traits. Plant Genetic Resources 7, 8893.
Royo C., Álvaro F., Martos V., Ramdani A., Isidro J., Villegas D. & García Del Moral L. F. (2007). Genetic changes in durum wheat yield components and associated traits in Italy and Spain during the 20th century. Euphytica 155, 259270.
Singh B. B., Mai-Kodomi Y. & Terao T. (1999). A simple screening method for drought tolerance in cowpea. Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding 59, 211220.
Sio-Se Mardeh A., Ahmadi A., Poustini K. & Mohammadi V. (2006). Evaluation of drought resistance indices under various environmental conditions. Field Crops Research 98, 222229.
Talebi R., Fayaz F. & Naji A. M. (2009). Effective selection criteria for assessing drought stress tolerance in durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.). General and Applied Plant Physiology 35, 6474.
Tuberosa R., Sanguineti M. C., Landi P., Giuliani M. M., Salvi S. & Conti S. (2002). Identification of QTLs for root characteristics in maize grown in hydroponics and analysis of their overlap with QTLs for grain yield in the field at two water regimes. Plant Molecular Biology 48, 697712.
Voltas J., Lopez-Corcoles H. & Borras G. (2005). Use of biplot analysis and factorial regression for the investigation of superior genotypes in multi-environment trials. European Journal of Agronomy 22, 309324.
Xiping D., Lun S. & Shinobu I. (1999). Effect of water stress on the seedling establishment of spring wheat. In Innovation of Agricultural Engineering Technologies for the 21st Century. Proceedings of the 99th International Conference on Agricultural Engineering, pp. 276280. Beijing, China: China Agricultural University Press.
Yan W. & Kang M. S. (2003). GGE Biplot Analysis: A Graphical Tool for Breeders, Geneticists and Agronomists. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Zadoks J. C., Chang T. T. & Konzak C. F. (1974). A decimal code for the growth stages of cereals. Weed Research 14, 415421.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-agricultural-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 53 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 206 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.