The effects of drought and high temperature stress on reproduction, physiology, and yield of spring and winter wheat



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Kansas State University


Drought and high temperature are major detriments to global wheat production. Wheat varies in its susceptibility to drought and high temperature stress. Three experiments were performed to address the challenges of drought and high temperature stress in wheat. The first experiment consisted of 256 genotypes of spring wheat and 301 genotypes of winter wheat, field screened for yield traits related to drought tolerance, in irrigated and dryland experiments. The experimental designs for the first experiment were both augmented incomplete block designs with one-way or row-column blocking. This experiment was performed at the Ashland Bottom Research Farm, south of Manhattan, KS, between 2011-2013. From this experiment, three conclusions were made: wheat genotypes vary widely in their responses between dryland and irrigated treatments and this variation can be used in future experiments or breeding tolerant genotypes. The number of seeds per unit of area, total biomass per unit area, and the average weight of one thousand seeds, were the best yield traits for predicting yield in both irrigated and dryland environments. Twenty genotypes were selected for future research based on their susceptibility or tolerance to drought. The second experiment was performed in the greenhouse facilities to observe the source-sink relationship of spring wheat genotype Seri 82 under drought and defoliation. The experiment was a randomized complete block design with a split-plot treatment arrangement. Post-anthesis cessation of watering and defoliation were the treatments. Both water stress and defoliation affected seed yield and total biomass. The major effect of post-anthesis water stress was a decrease in single seed weight. Defoliation affected the source-sink relationship by reducing the source strength of the leaves. This caused the stem to contribute more to overall yield. The defoliation also caused the remaining leaves to compensate for the removed leaves. The final experiment evaluated the changes in seed-filling rate and duration of three winter wheat genotypes during high temperature stress. High temperature stress reduced the duration of seed fill and increased the rate, differently in each genotype. Higher yields in the winter wheat growing regions, susceptible to post-anthesis high temperature stress, may be possible through selection of cultivars with faster seed-filling rates and/or duration of seed filling.



Stress, Wheat, High Temperature, Drought

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Agronomy

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P.V. Vara Prasad