Advanced Analysis of the Responses of Cotton Genotypes Growing Under Water Stress
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The ever-growing world population raises the concern and necessity of rational use and distribution of limited water resources. Water deficit is the single most dominant abiotic factor limiting cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) yield in drought-prone Texas croplands. Characterizing plant traits conferring drought tolerance to cotton genotypes and then transferring this information back to breeders and geneticists have the potential of significantly increasing and stabilizing production statewide. Although a plethora of physiological studies have been conducted and have demonstrated that drought tolerance in plants is likely to be conferred by a combination of plant traits rather than a single trait, this knowledge has not translated into improved breeding lines. Experiments were conducted in 2010 and 2011 in the Drought Tolerance Laboratory (Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi, TX) to analyze the responses of cotton genotypes to different levels of water stress. This facility is equipped with computerized systems capable of continuously monitoring whole-plant water use as well as several environmental parameters. Sixteen cotton genotypes were provided by Monsanto Co. and the Texas AgriLife Cotton Improvement Programs at College Station and Lubbock. Seeds were pre-germinated in wet paper towels and then hand planted in large pots previously filled with fritted clay. A total of 3 and 8 (2010 and 2011, respectively) pots containing plants of each genotype were permanently placed on micro-lysimeters for continuous measurement of water use. Water regimes were imposed in 2010 (well-watered and water-stressed), and 2011 (water-stressed) when plants reached the early-flowering stage and were carried until plants reached maturity (100% open bolls). Data collected showed that genotypes have very distinct water use patterns. The water stress treatment imposed on the test plants negatively affected plant growth that was indicated by a lower plant height, total number of leaves, and main-stem nodes of stressed plants when contrasted to their well-watered counterparts. Stomatal density was remarkably different among genotypes and a higher density was found on the abaxial (lower) leaf surface for all genotypes studied. Root dry mass production had different responses depending upon the severity of the water stress. Highest root dry mass was observed when plants were exposed to a mild stress and lowest when a more severe water restriction was imposed.
Maeda, Murilo Minekawa 1985- (2012). Advanced Analysis of the Responses of Cotton Genotypes Growing Under Water Stress. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from