Studies on morpho-physiological characters of different Avena species under stress conditions
Seven species of oat (Avena) were evaluated for their relative drought tolerance under soil moisture stress. The plant height, leaf area production and biomass yield reduced under soil moisture stress. Among the species tested, minimum reduction in height was recorded in Avena vaviloviana, Avena abyssinica and Avena sterilis at vegetative and flowering stages. Significant decrease in leaf area production was recorded at vegetative stage, whereas at flowering stage, the decrease in leaf area production was marginal in A. sterilis followed by A. abyssinica predicting their more adaption to stress environment. The increase in specific leaf weight (SLW) of all the species of Avena showed increase in leaf thickness, exhibiting high water retention capacity under soil moisture stress condition which is a requisite trait for drought tolerance. Soil moisture stress imposed at vegetative and flowering stages reduced fresh biomass yield in all the species. Minimum reduction in dry biomass accumulation under stress environment at vegetative stage was recorded in A. sterilis followed by A. strigosa and A. sativa, exhibiting their tolerance to drought at early stages of growth. However, at flowering stage, minimum decrease in dry biomass production was recorded in A. sterilis (3.47%) followed by A. marocana (12.56%) indicating their relative drought tolerance at flowering stage of crop growth. A significant positive correlation between total leaf area and dry biomass (r2=0.738) under stress environment indicates that dry biomass accumulation was governed by total leaf area production. A. sterilis accumulated maximum fresh and dry biomass under soil moisture stress with minimum reduction over the non stress environment, indicating its drought tolerance potential as compared to other genotypes tested.
Keywords: Avena, biomass, flowering stage, leaf area, soil moisture stress, vegetative stage.