Tolerant pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) varieties to low soil P have higher transpiration efficiency and lower flowering delay than sensitive ones uri icon

abstract

  • AbstractBackground and aimIn the West African Sahel low soil phosphorus (P) and unpredictable rainfall are major interacting constraints to growth and grain yield of pearl millet. Investigating the relationship between transpiration and final yield under the combined effect of water and P stress is fundamental to understand the underlying mechanisms of tolerance and improve breeding programs.MethodsWe conducted two lysimeter trials using 1 m long PVC tubes (35 cm diameter) filled with a P poor Sahelian soil mimicking soil profiles to assess grain and stover yield, and water use of 15 pearl millet genotypes grown under different P (no P supply or addition of 1.5 g P tube?1) and water (well watered or terminal water stress) regimes. In experiment 2 transpiration was measured twice a week from tube weight differences, and transpiration efficiency (TE) was calculated as dry matter (DM) produced per kg of water transpired.ResultsLow soil P delayed flowering, and more so in sensitive genotypes. Later flowering of genotypes sensitive to low P made them more sensitive to terminal water stress. Under P limiting soil, genotypes tolerant and sensitive to low P used similar amounts of water (19.8 and 21.7 kg water plant?1, respectively). However, tolerant lines transpired less water prior to anthesis (8.8 kg water plant?1) leaving more water available for grain filling (11 kg water plant?1) while sensitive lines used 14.4 kg water plant?1 pre-anthesis, leaving only 7.2 kg water plant?1 for grain filling. Low soil P decreased grain yield by affecting seed size at harvest and its damage during seed filling overrode the effect of seed size at sowing. Grain yield was positively correlated with water extracted after anthesis. TE was enhanced by P supply, especially in sensitive lines, and TE was higher in tolerant than in sensitive genotypes under low soil P.ConclusionsPearl millet plants tolerant to low P were more resistant to the delay of flowering caused by low P soil and they presented higher transpiration efficiency. The pattern of transpiration was important to cope with terminal water stress under different levels of P availability. Higher transpiration after anthesis, resulting from conservative water mechanism pre-anthesis (higher TE) and possibly by a shorter delay in flowering under low soil P, enhanced grain yield

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015