A set of 32 genotypes, belonging to 23 triploid subgroups, and 3 additional diploid subspecies were selected based on morphological and taxonomic descriptions for phenotyping in controlled conditions to assess their potential for water stress efficiency. The best performing genotypes accumulated six to seven times more biomass than the least performing. Eight genotypes (five ABB, one AAB, and two AAA) invest under osmotic stress significantly more in root growth than in leaf growth. We predict therefore that these genotypes have potential for high productivity under rain fed conditions with a short dry season.
In the study, plants were first phenotyped for performance under control and osmotic stress conditions in a growth characterization experiment. Secondly, only under control conditions, transpiration dynamics characteristics were assessed in a multi-lysimeter setup. Additionally a leaf level gas exchange experiment, measuring CO2 assimilation (A) and stomatal conductance to water (gs), was performed on the reference cultivar. This experimental setup is useful and might be applied to other crops.
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