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

Krishnamurthy, L and Serraj, R and Rai, K N and Hash, C T and Dakheel, A J (2007) Identification of pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.] lines tolerant to soil salinity. Euphytica, 158 (1-2). pp. 179-188. ISSN 0014-2336

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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 (Pennisetum 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.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Mandate crops > Millets
Depositing User: Library ICRISAT
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2011 18:08
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2012 09:00
Official URL:
Funders: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, OPEC Fund for International Development
Acknowledgement: This research was initially supported by core funds of ICRISAT and later by OPEC Fund for International Development assigned to biotechnology-assisted improvement in salinity tolerance through the GTBiotechnology of ICRISAT. The authors gratefully acknowledge the guidance on statistical analysis provided by Dr S Chandra, Principal Scientist (Biometrics), ICRISAT.
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