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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Phenotyping for drought resistance in bread wheat using physiological and biochemical traits

Ahmed, Kashif; Shabbir, Ghulam; Ahmed, Mukhtar; Shah, Kausar Nawaz


Drought is one of the most prominent limiting factors that negatively affect crop productivity by manipulating its physiological pathway. One hundred twenty diverse bread wheat genotypes were used in a pot experiment to explore the relationship among their fifteen physio-biochemical traits (PBT) by using multivariate analysis, heatmapping and stress tolerance index (STI) for grain yield as a marker trait to identify high yielding genotype with maximum stress tolerance capability. Increased proline and sugar accumulation were observed from control to moisture deficient environments by 159% and 122%, respectively. Moreover, leaf membrane stability index (LMSI), leaf relative water content (LRWC), relative dry weight (RDW), chlorophyll content, leaf surface area (LSA), Leaf succulence (LS), canopy temperature depression (CTD), relative excised leaf water loss (RELWL) and leaf osmotic potential (LOP) showed significantly decreasing trend in drought stress treatment as compared to well-watered plants by −21%, −21%, −34%, −22%, −38%, −37%, −46%, −18% and −35% respectively. Additionally, principal component analysis and genotype by trait biplot analysis showed that initial 7 principal components (PC1 to PC7) represented 77.27% and 79.02% of total cumulative variation under control and drought stress respectively. Genotypic-Phenotypic correlation revealed that most of the attributes were higher in case of genotypic correlation component (rg) as compared to the phenotypic correlation component (rp) indicating more genetic association between traits. The darker and lighter colour scale produced by heatmap exhibited contrasting nature of genotypes, as positive side with higher values represented drought resistance while values on the negative side with lower values showed susceptible performance of genotypes. Our results concluded that the studied PBT associated with STI for grain yield are the main factors which may contribute in improved productivity of wheat crop and if these traits show appropriate performance under stress condition the crop will show the more productive returns under changing climate.


Drought; Wheat; Physio-biochemical traits; Stress tolerance index; Heatmap'; Correlation coefficient

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2020, Volume: 729, article number: 139082

    SLU Authors

    • Ahmed, Mukhtar

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action
    SDG2 Zero hunger

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


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