University Of Tasmania

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Assessing the suitability of various screening methods as a proxy for drought tolerance in barley

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 23:35 authored by Hasanuzzaman, Md, Svetlana ShabalaSvetlana Shabala, Timothy BrodribbTimothy Brodribb, Meixue ZhouMeixue Zhou, Sergey ShabalaSergey Shabala
Plant breeders are in the need for a convenient, reproducible, reliable and rapid screening methods to be used as a proxy for drought tolerance for a large number of genotypes. Addressing this need, we compared different physiological measures of stress in six barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) genotypes subjected to different drought treatments under glasshouse conditions. Genotypes were evaluated by measuring transpiration rate, quantum yield of PSII (chlorophyll fluorescence Fv/Fm ratio), SPAD chlorophyll meter reading, dry biomass and shoot water content. The accuracy of different methods for quantifying water stress tolerance was evaluated by measuring the rates of surviving and death in plants and leaves, and newly grown leaves after rewatering. In another experiment, the same genotypes were evaluated by applying 18% (w/v) of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to germinating seeds grown in paper rolls to induce osmotic stress, using relative root and shoot lengths as a measure of tolerance. The results suggest that transpiration measurements at the recovery stage could be the most sensitive method for separating contrasting genotypes. However, the method is time-consuming and laborious for large-scale screening. Chlorophyll content, dry biomass, shoot water content and stomatal density did not correlate with plant drought tolerance. At the same time, chlorophyll fluorescence Fv/Fm ratio showed a strong correlation with drought tolerance and could be recommended as suitable proxy for screening. Measuring relative root growth rate (length) using PEG-treated paper roll-grown seedlings also seems to be a highly suitable and promising method for screening a large number of genotypes in breeding programs.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Functional Plant Biology








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

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Copyright 2016 CSIRO

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences