Drought is a non-uniform phenomenon that negatively influences plant growth, morphology, physiology, and yield depending on crop development stage, time and severity of stress. Drought tolerance is an extremely complex and polygenic trait in plants that implies a combination of genetic, physiological and biochemical mechanisms. One of the greatest challenges for plant breeders is the need of food safety in abiotic stress conditions. Wheat is one of the most important crop species of the world. Testing the abiotic stress tolerance needs a complex approach.
Fourteen wheat varieties of different origin (four from Austria, five from Serbia and five from Azerbaijan) were studied in a greenhouse pot experiment under controlled drought stress, salt stress and combined salt and drought stress.
The effect of stress on plant height, aboveground biomass, and grain yield are presented. All parameters were negatively affected by the applied stress treatments. The lowest decreases were found in the case of salt stress and the highest decreases were observed in combined drought and saline stress. In the combined stress treatment, grain yield reduction was 60% and 90% for the most tolerant and most sensitive variety, respectively.
Our results demonstrate that ‘Capo’ from Austria had the best abiotic stress tolerance among the tested 14 wheat varieties, showing high grain yield under the control conditions. The most sensitive varieties were ‘Balkan’ from Serbia and ‘Gyrmyzy gul 1’ from Azerbaijan. The tolerant varieties can be used in breeding programs as parental lines.
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