Screening for Drought Tolerance in Thirty Three Taro Cultivars
AbstractTaro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] is a root crop which is an important staple food in many regions of the world, producing 10.5 million tonnes on 1.4 million hectares a year. The crop is cultivated in wet (rain fed) or irrigated conditions, requiring on average 2,500 mm water per year, and in many countries it is cultivated in flooded plots. It is estimated that taro production could decrease by 40% as a result of the increase in drought and other severe events. In this work, thirty three accessions, including local cultivars, selected and hybrid lines were submitted to long duration drought stress and screened for tolerance. Twelve physiological, morphological and agronomic traits were measured at harvest, and subject to multivariate analysis. Stress indices, Water Use Efficiency and Factorial Analysis were useful for discriminating accessions regarding drought tolerance and yield stability, and drought tolerant and susceptible cultivars were identified. Our results confirm that different taro cultivars have different drought avoidance and tolerance strategies to cope with water scarcity. Better yield performers minimised biomass and canopy loss, while tolerance was observed in cultivars that presented low potential yield, but efficiently transferred resources to enhance corm formation. Among the 33 accessions, two local cultivars showed high yield stability and could be considered as suitable parents for breeding programs, while two others are well adapted to drought, but with overall low yield potential.
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