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On the extent of genetic variation for transpiration efficiency in sorghum

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Hammer, G. L., Farquhar, G. D. and Broad, I. J. (1997) On the extent of genetic variation for transpiration efficiency in sorghum. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 48 (5). pp. 649-656.


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/A96111

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/A96111


A glasshouse study examined 49 diverse sorghum lines for variation in transpiration efficiency. Three of the 49 lines grown were Sorghum spp. native to Australia; one was the major weed Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense), and the remaining 45 lines were cultivars of Sorghum bicolor. All plants were grown under non-limiting water and nutrient conditions using a semi-automatic pot watering system designed to facilitate accurate measurement of water use. Plants were harvested 56–58 days after sowing and dry weights of plant parts were determined. Transpiration efficiency differed signficantly among cultivars. The 3 Australian native sorghums had much lower transpiration efficiency than the other 46 cultivars, which ranged from 7·7 to 6·0 g/kg. For the 46 diverse cultivars, the ratio of range in transpiration efficiency to its l.s.d. was 2·0, which was similar to that found among more adapted cultivars in a previous study. This is a significant finding as it suggests that there is likely to be little pay-off from pursuing screening of unadapted material for increased variation in transpiration efficiency. It is necessary, however, also to examine absolute levels of transpiration efficiency to determine whether increased levels have been found. The cultivar with greatest transpiration efficiency in this study (IS9710) had a value 9% greater (P < 0·05) than the accepted standard for adapted sorghum cultivars. The potential impact of such an increase in transpiration efficiency warrants continued effort to capture it. Transpiration efficiency has been related theoretically and experimentally to the degree of carbon isotope discrimination in leaf tissue in sorghum, which thus offers a relatively simple selection index. In this study, the variation in transpiration efficiency was not related simply to carbon isotope discrimination. Significant associations of transpiration efficiency with ash content and indices of photosynthetic capacity were found. However, the associations were not strong. These results suggest that a simple screening technique could not be based on any of the measures or indices analysed in this study. A better understanding of the physiological basis of the observed genetic differences in transpiration efficiency may assist in developing reliable selection indices. It was concluded that the potential value of the improvement in transpiration efficiency over the accepted standard and the degree of genetic variation found warrant further study on this subject. It was suggested that screening for genetic variation under water-limiting conditions may provide useful insights and should be pursued.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Keywords:growth, biomass, partitioning, water use, carbon isotope discrimination, ash content, selection index.
Subjects:Science > Botany > Genetics
Plant culture > Field crops > Sorghum
Live Archive:30 Nov 2022 06:45
Last Modified:30 Nov 2022 06:45

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