The reactions of the photosynthetic apparatus of the flag leaf of different varieties of winter bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to soil drought, high temperature and their combined effect both under soil moisture deficiency action and at the recovery period after the normal watering resumption were studied, in order to identify the most informative indices of adaptability of wheat varieties to adverse environmental factors. The experiments were performed with plants of the varieties Yednist, Podilska Nyva and Darunok Podillya grown in pot culture under natural light and temperature conditions. The pots (10 kg of soil) were watered daily to maintain the soil moisture level at 70 % of field capacity (FC). Drought treatment was applied to one half of pots by lowering soil moisture content to 30 % FC for seven days during earing-flowering. After that, watering of experimental plants was resumed to the level of control. Measuring of CO2 assimilation and transpiration rate of the flag leaf of the control and treated plants at a temperature of 25 and 42 oC and leaf tissues sampling for physiological and biochemical indices evaluation were performed on the first day of soil moisture reduction to 30 % FC, on the seventh day at this level of soil moisture and a week after the resumption of optimal watering. On the first day of drought at 30 % FC, it was found significant decrease in relative water content (RWC), CO2 assimilation and transpiration rates for all varieties and a tendency to decrease in chlorophyll content for varieties Podilska Nyva and Darunok Podillya. On the seventh day of the drought, the RWC in all varieties declined more, the chlorophyll content decreased significantly, however the degree of inhibition of CO2 assimilation and transpiration reduced for varieties Yednist and Podilska Nyva and remained at the same level in Darunok Podillya. On the seventh day of optimal watering renewal, the CO2 assimilation rate in treated plants of all varieties was restored to the level of control despite the significantly lower chlorophyll content. The increase in temperature to 42 oC severely reduced the CO2 assimilation rate in both control and experimental plants. However, the degree of photosynthesis reduction in treated plants was much greater than in control at the beginning of the drought, but heat resistance of photosynthesis of stressed plants of all varieties did not differ with control after 7 days of water deficit, and was even higher than control on the seventh day of optimal watering renewal, indicating the formation of cross-tolerance of the photosynthetic apparatus to high temperature in plants under drought. The increase in the activity of antioxidant enzymes of chloroplasts superoxide dismutase and ascorbate peroxidase in the leaves of stressed plants was detected. The ratio of the values of photosynthetic apparatus activity and productivity indices of treated plants to control ones was the most informative for the phenotyping of wheat varieties by drought and heat resistance. According to the set of physiological indices defined in our work, the studied varieties can be arranged in the following order of increased drought- and heat-tolerance: Darunok Podillya < Podilska Nyva < Yednist.
Keywords: Triticum aestivum L., drought, high temperature stress, photosynthesis, transpiration, cross-adaptation, antioxidant enzymes, productivity
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