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Terminal drought tolerant pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] have high leaf ABA and limit transpiration at high vapour pressure deficit
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It was previously shown that pearl millet genotypes carrying a terminal drought tolerance quantitative trait locus (QTL) had a lower transpiration rate (Tr; g cm−2 d−1) under well-watered conditions than sensitive lines. Here experiments were carried out to test whether this relates to leaf abscisic acid (ABA) and Tr concentration at high vapour pressure deficit (VPD), and whether that leads to transpiration efficiency (TE) differences. These traits were measured in tolerant/sensitive pearl millet genotypes, including near-isogenic lines introgressed with a terminal drought tolerance QTL (NIL-QTLs). Most genotypic differences were found under well-watered conditions. ABA levels under well-watered conditions were higher in tolerant genotypes, including NIL-QTLs, than in sensitive genotypes, and ABA did not increase under water stress. Well-watered Tr was lower in tolerant than in sensitive genotypes at all VPD levels. Except for one line, Tr slowed down in tolerant lines above a breakpoint at 1.40–1.90 kPa, with the slope decreasing >50%, whereas sensitive lines showed no change in that Tr response across the whole VPD range. It is concluded that two water-saving (avoidance) mechanisms may operate under well-watered conditions in tolerant pearl millet: (i) a low Tr even at low VPD conditions, which may relate to leaf ABA; and (ii) a sensitivity to higher VPD that further restricts Tr, which suggests the involvement of hydraulic signals. Both traits, which did not lead to TE differences, could contribute to absolute water saving seen in part due to dry weight increase differences. This water saved would become critical for grain filling and deserves consideration in the breeding of terminal drought-tolerant lines.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/2354
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