Drought is one of the major constraints which hinder plant’s growth and development. Plants primarily respond to drought by arresting growth. In response to this condition photosynthesis reduces which leads towards decreased chlorophyll content1. However, some plant species also show resistance against this situation known as “Drought tolerance” which is extremely complicated trait that involves multiple genetic, morphological and physiological as well as biochemical mechanisms2.
Accordingly, Brachiaria species are perennial C4 plants used as forage plant, native to Africa which can acclimatize in drought condtions3, because they have the capability to retain greater photosynthetic rates per unit of water loss as compared to C3 species4. Moreover B. brizantha cv Mulato II (Mulato II), in East Africa where the grass has been utilized as a trap plant in the ‘push-pull’ pest management system as well5. It is also reported that ‘Mulato II’ can tolerate extensive duration of drought of up to 3 months with restricted water accessibility as well as temperatures of 30°C and higher6.
This astonishing quality motivated the research team led by Duncan Cheruiyot7 to conduct a research to assess and select high yielding brachiaria genotypes under simulated drought conditions. For this reason, 18 ecotypes of brachiaria were exposed to different watering regimes. Well-watered (control) plants had the access to water every 48 hours whereas drought was simulated by delaying watering for 14 and 28 days, representing moderate and severe drought conditions, respectively. Afterwards, scientists investigated the shoot length, leaf length and width, number of tillers, leaf relative water content and chlorophyll content as well as above ground biomass.
It was noted that at under mounting drought conditions, biomass yield was found to be an exact predictor of drought tolerance of the genotypes. Whereas the genotypes ‘Xaraes’, ‘Piata’, CIAT 679, ‘Marandu’, ‘Mulato II’ and ‘Mulato I’ were found to be similarly and more drought tolerant under severe drought stress.
Moreover, ‘Piata’ and ‘Xaraes’ emerged as candidate genotypes that would suffer lower yield penalties in arid and semi-arid areas that experience frequent and severe drought conditions. Conclusively, use of these potential genotypes would renew confidence in cereal-livestock productivity through management of stem borers in smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa amid the increasing threat of climate change.
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17 November, 2019