ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 107, No. 2 (2020), p. 161–170
DOI 10.13080/z-a.2020.107.021

Drought stress response of Westerwolths ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum ssp. multiflorum) cultivars differing in their ploidy level



Drought is one of the critical abiotic stresses that significantly affect agricultural production, and current models predict an increase in its severity and intensity in the future. Generally, polyploidy has been found to improve the resistance of plants to abiotic stress. Understanding the role of ploidy in resistance to drought was achieved by comparing the response between diploids and their respective induced autotetraploids of Westerwolths ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum ssp. multiflorum). Field trials were carried out in the 2017 and 2018 growing seasons, and mild drought simulation experiments in controlled conditions were carried out to validate the effect of chromosome duplication. Results obtained from morphological traits in the field experiment revealed that the induced tetraploids were significantly (p < 0.05) taller, had longer inflorescences and larger flag leaf area than their diploid counterparts, especially in the year 2018 characterized by the prolonged drought.

This study also revealed that the induced tetraploids produced more dry matter yield than their diploid progenitors, especially in drought periods. The induced tetraploids had significantly higher antiradical activity and phenolic content than the diploid progenitors in response to mild drought, and this significantly correlated with the plant performance in 2018 field trials, indicating that increased ploidy level plays an important role in conferring resistance to drought in Westerwolths ryegrass. Furthermore, the antiradical activity and total phenolic content proved to be a good tool to evaluate drought tolerance at the vegetative stage in Westerwolths ryegrass.

Key words: mild drought, morphological traits, phenolic contents, tetraploids.

Full text: 107_2_str21.pdf