Drought tolerance is the short description of a quite complex agronomic trait. It describes the ability of crops to survive and produce a significant amount of yield even under exceptionally dry growing conditions. Since drought as a climate-related phenomenon can develop at quite different times within the growing season and climate conditions differ massively between regions, there is not one general drought model to which a plant can be tolerant. As a result, plants need different strategies and reaction patterns to deal with drought. It is also part of the breeding process to define how plants should perform in case of drought. As this is ultimately a probability game, it massively depends on the expected kind, duration, frequency and intensity of drought if plants should follow one or the other concept.
Drought tolerance is of primary interest for an increasing number of crops, in order to maintain adequate yield under stress conditions. LemnaTec scanalyzer watering systems provide individual plant watering solutions to simulate specific soil humidity profiles and to monitor water usage.
Some drought tolerance (or drought resistance) reaction patterns:
- Drought Tolerance - Increased root growth in the early growing season, to allow enhanced water extraction from deeper soil layers in case of an early drought.
- General absolute reduction of water evaporation, to save water for later drought periods during flowering and ripening.
- High water usage efficiency, to allow minimisation of water amounts needed in irrigation.
- Physiological reduction of leaf water evaporation with smaller leaves, leaf hairs etc.
- Prevention of extreme growth, even under favourable growing conditions, to avoid a complete breakdown during a later drought period.
- The ability to shed most leaves during drought periods, but also to build up new leaf biomass later on when growth conditions improve again.
Drought Tolerance, Fry Cereals
Measurement of drought tolerance using LemnaTec scanalyzer phenotyping technology
To assess and understand the genetic and physiological background of these complex plant development patterns, a detailed analysis of plant development under highly controlled, simulated drought conditions is extremely helpful. LemnaTec scanalyzer3D systems for greenhouses and growth chambers or growth rooms are designed to control the water supply and soil humidity for each individual plant and at the same time to monitor water evaporation and plant development. Scanalyzer VIS-systems, for example, provide information on biomass development, plant architecture and short-term leaf reactions such as leaf rolling or drooping. Scanalyzer NIR-imaging allows the monitoring of leaf water content, showing how plants deal physiologically with a specific water regime. Scanalyzer IR-heat imaging modules deliver information on leaf temperature and stomata closure. LemnaTec scanalyzer root imaging quantifies root development in real soil, using transparent pots (VIS) and providing soil water extraction profiles based on NIR-imaging. These image-based data can be complemented by individual, high-frequency read-out systems for soil humidity, soil temperature or e.g. leaf thickness.
Drought Tolerance, watering