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Analysis of early responses to drought associated with field drought adaptation in four Sahelian groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) cultivars

Clavel D., Drame N.K., Roy-Macauley H., Braconnier S., Laffray D.. 2005. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 54 : p. 219-230.

DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2004.07.008

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is the most important oil and cash crop in the sub-Sahelian tropics. Plant adaptation to drought, i.e. cultivars (cvs) that can maintain yield when water is limited, is a complex phenomenon which is not yet fully understood. This study aimed to identify traits expressed at the early stages of the cycle that could reveal cv differences in drought adaptation in the field. The field productivity of four Sahelian groundnut cvs was assessed during three crop seasons in Bambey (Senegal). The same cvs grown in rhizotrons were subjected to early drought stress and to a desiccation test to assess cell membrane tolerance. Between-cv differences were found with respect to pod yield, biomass production, water use efficiency (WUE), stomatal regulation and cell membrane tolerance. Two strategies to cope with water deficit were identified. The first behaviour was characterised by high rapid water loss, late stomatal closure and low cell membrane damage during drought. These traits are all found in the semi-late Virginia cv 57-422 and, into a lesser extent, in the early Spanish cv Fleur 11. For both cvs, biomass production was boosted under favourable conditions in rhizotrons but the semi-late cv had poor pod yield under end-of-season water deficit conditions. The second strategy involved opposite characters, leading to the maintenance of a higher water status, resulting in lower photosynthesis and yield. This characterised the early Spanish cv 73-30, and also, to some extent, the early Spanish cv 55-437. Earliness associated with high WUE, stomatal conductance and cell membrane tolerance, were the main traits of Fleur 11, a cv derived from a Virginia x Spanish cross, which was able to maintain acceptable yield under varying drought patterns in the field. These traits, as they were detectable at an early stage, could therefore be efficiently integrated in groundnut breeding programmes for drought adaptation.

Mots-clés : arachis hypogaea; stress dû à la sécheresse; résistance à la sécheresse; résistance induite; régulation physiologique; variété; critère de sélection

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