Drought events or the combination of drought and heat conditions are expected to become more frequent due to global warming, and wheat yields may fall below their long-term average. One way to increase climate-resilience of modern high-yielding varieties is by their genetic improvement with beneficial alleles from crop wild relatives. In the present study, the effect of two beneficial QTLs introgressed from wild emmer wheat and incorporated in the three wheat varieties BarNir, Zahir and Uzan was studied under well-watered conditions and under drought stress using non-destructive High-throughput Phenotyping (HTP) throughout the life cycle in a single pot-experiment. Plants were daily imaged with RGB top and side view cameras and watered automatically. Further, at two time points, the quantum yield of photosystem II was measured with a top view FluorCam. The QTL carrying near isogenic lines (NILs) were compared with their corresponding parents by t-test for all non-invasively obtained traits and for the manually determined agronomic and yield parameters. Data quality of phenotypic traits (repeatability) in the controlled HTP experiment was above 85% throughout the life cycle and at maturity. Drought stress had a strong effect on growth in all wheat genotypes causing biomass reduction from 2% up to 70% at early and late points in the drought period, respectively. At maturity, the drought caused 47–55% decreases in yield-related traits grain weight, straw weight and total biomass and reduced TKW by 10%, while water use efficiency (WUE) increased under drought by 29%. The yield-enhancing effect of the introgressed QTLs under drought conditions that were previously demonstrated under field/screenhouse conditions in Israel, could be mostly confirmed in a greenhouse pot experiment using HTP. Daily precision phenotyping enabled to decipher the mode of action of the QTLs in the different genetic backgrounds throughout the entire wheat life cycle. Daily phenotyping allowed a precise determination of the timing and size of the QTLs effect (s) and further yielded information about which image-derived traits are informative at which developmental stage of wheat during the entire life cycle. Maximum height and estimated biovolume were reached about a week after heading, so experiments that only aim at exploring these traits would not need a longer observation period. To obtain information on different onset and progress of senescence, the CVa curves represented best the ongoing senescence of plants. The QTL on 7A in the BarNir background was found to improve yield under drought by increased biomass growth, a higher photosynthetic performance, a higher WUE and a “stay green effect.”
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Scientist Foundation (Grants 837-0079-10, 837-0162-14) and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (FKZ: 2813IL03). YS is the incumbent of the Haim Gvati Chair in Agriculture. This work was conducted as part of the STARGATE project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under grant agreement number 952339.
Copyright © 2022 Lauterberg, Saranga, Deblieck, Klukas, Krugman, Perovic, Ordon, Graner and Neumann.
- drought resilience
- high-throughput phenotyping
- near-isogenic lines
- stay green
- stay-green effect
- wild emmer wheat