Identification of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) lines tolerant to soil salinity uri icon

abstract

  • Crop tolerance to salinity is of high importance due to the extent and the constant increase in salt-affected areas in arid and semi-arid regions. Pearl millet (Pennistum glaucum), generally considered as fairly tolerant to salinity, could be an alternative crop option for salt affected areas. To explore the genotypic variability of vegetative-stage salinity tolerance, 100 pearl millet lines from ICRISAT breeding programs were first screened in a pot culture containing Alfisol with 250 mM NaCl solution as basal application. Subsequently, 31 lines including many parents of commercial hybrids, selected from the first trial were re-tested for confirmation of the initial salinity responses. Substantial variation for salinity tolerance was found on the basis of shoot biomass ratio (shoot biomass under salinity/ non-saline control) and 22 lines with a wide range of tolerance varying from highly tolerant to sensitive entries were identified. The performance of the genotypes was largely consistent across experiments. In a separate seed germination and seedling growth study, the seed germination was found to be adversely affected (more than 70% decrease) in more than half of the genotypes with 250 mM concentration of NaCl. The root growth ratio (root growth under salinity/control) as well as shoot growth ratio was measured at 6 DAS and this did not reflect the whole plant performance at 39 DAS. In general, the whole plant salinity tolerance was associated with reduced shoot N content, increased K+ and Na+ contents. The K+/Na+ and Ca++/Na+ ratios were also positively related to the tolerance but not as closely as the Na+ content. Therefore, it is concluded that a large scope exists for improving salt tolerance in pearl millet and that shoot Na+ concentration could be considered as a potential non-destructive selection criterion for vegetative-stage screening. The usefulness of this criterion for salinity response with respect to grain and stover yield remains to be investigated.

publication date

  • 2007
  • 2007
  • 2007