Screening for drought tolerance: comparison of maize hybrids under water deficit condition

Qurban Ali, Muhammad Ahsan, Saif-ul- Malook, Naila Kanwal, Fawad Ali, Arfan Ali, Wazir Ahmed, Muhammad Ishfaq, Muhammad Saleem


Background: Maize is an important cereal crop, grown throughout the globe for human food and livestock feed, but biotic and abiotic factors had shown adverse effects on biomass and grain yield. Changing climatic conditions have imposed drought (water scarcity) as a major problem to combat with yield losses and biomass in maize and other cereals. 

Methods: The prescribed study was conducted to evaluate F1 hybrids at seedling subject to 45% moisture level. The data was recorded and subjected to multivariate analysis to find the significant variation attributed by various traits under stress conditions for efficient root/shoot development.

Results: Significant differences were found in F1 hybrids for all studied traits. Higher heritability was found for root length, shoot length and fresh shoot weight, while fresh shoot weight, dry shoot weight and dry root weight showed higher genetic advance. Significant correlation was found for dry root weight to fresh shoot length and fresh root length, fresh root weight to fresh root/shoot weight ratio and fresh shoot weight. The hybrids Sh-139×B-316, Raka-poshi×B-316, B-327×B-316, Sh-139×EV-340, EV-1097Q×EV-347, EV-1097Q×EV-340, EV-1097Q×Pop/209 and B-327×EV-340 showed higher and positive heterosis and heterobeltiosis for most of the studied traits. To assess the overall variation on dependent structure, we used multivariate analysis, an important tool in breeding program, for efficient selection.

Conclusions: EV-1097Q×Pop/209 and Sh-139×EV-340 showed significant results for root and shoot development under various water stress regimes at seedling stage, thus further studies should be carried out to find out the known and un-known loci regarding root and shoot development traits in high yielding maize cultivars under arid/semi-arid regions.

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