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Physiological characteristics of cassava tolerance to prolonged drought in the tropics: implications for breeding cultivars adapted to seasonally dry and semiarid environments Translated title: Características fisiológicas da tolerância da mandioca a secas prolongadas nos trópicos: implicações para o melhoramento de cultivares adaptadas a ambientes semi-áridos e sazonalmente secos

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      Abstract

      The paper summarizes research conducted at International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on responses of cassava to extended water shortages in the field aided by modern gas-exchange and water-relation techniques as well as biochemical assays. The aim of the research was to coordinate basic and applied aspects of crop physiology into a breeding strategy with a multidisciplinary approach. Several physiological characteristics/traits and mechanisms underpinning tolerance of cassava to drought were elucidated using a large number of genotypes from the CIAT core germplasm collection grown in various locations representing ecozones where cassava is cultivated. Most notable among these characteristics are the high photosynthetic capacity of cassava leaves in favorable environments and the maintenance of reasonable rates throughout prolonged water deficits, a crucial characteristic for high and sustainable productivity. Cassava possess a tight stomatal control over leaf gas exchange that reduces water losses when plants are subjected to soil water deficits as well as to high atmospheric evaporative demands, thus protecting leaves from severe dehydration. During prolonged water deficits, cassava reduces its canopy by shedding older leaves and forming smaller new leaves leading to less light interception, another adaptive trait to drought. Though root yield is reduced (but much less than the reduction in top growth) under water stress, the crop can recover when water becomes available by rapidly forming new canopy leaves with much higher photosynthetic rates compared to unstressed crops, thus compensating for yield losses with final yields approaching those in well-watered crops. Cassava can extract slowly water from deep soils, a characteristic of paramount importance in seasonally dry and semiarid environments where deeply stored water needs to be tapped. Screening large accessions under seasonally dry and semiarid environments showed that yield is significantly correlated with upper canopy leaf photosynthetic rates, and the association was attributed mainly to nonstomatal (anatomical/biochemical) factors. Parental materials with both high yields and photosynthetic rates were identified for incorporation into breeding and selection programs for cultivars adapted to prolonged drought coupled with high temperatures and dry air, conditions that might be further aggravated by global climate changes in tropical regions.

      Translated abstract

      Este artigo sumaria resultados de pesquisas conduzidas no Centro Internacional para Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), sobre as respostas da mandioca a períodos prolongados de déficit hídrico, no campo, centrando-se em trocas gasosas, relações hídricas e em ensaios bioquímicos. O objetivo da pesquisa foi coordenar aspectos básicos e aplicados da fisiologia da produção para uma estratégia de melhoramento utilizando-se de uma abordagem multidisciplinar. Várias características e mecanismos associados com a tolerância da mandioca à seca foram elucidados, usando-se de um grande número de genótipos da coleção do germoplasma do CIAT; os genótipos foram cultivados em várias localidades representantes de ecozonas onde a mandioca é cultivada. Dentre essas características, destacam-se a elevada capacidade fotossintética das folhas da mandioca em ambientes favoráveis e a manutenção de taxas fotossintéticas razoáveis durante períodos prolongados de seca, uma característica crucial para altas e sustentadas produtividades. A mandioca apresenta um controle estomático eficiente sobre as trocas gasosas, a fim de reduzir as perdas de água quando as plantas são sujeitas ao déficit de água no solo ou a altas demandas evaporativas da atmosfera, portanto protegendo as folhas de uma desidratação severa. Durante déficits hídricos prolongados, a mandioca reduz a área de sua copa, via perda das folhas mais velhas e formação de novas e menores folhas, o quê reduz a interceptação da luz, outra característica de adaptação à seca. Apesar de a produção de raízes ser deduzida (porém muito menos que a redução do crescimento da parte aérea) sob seca, a cultura pode recuperar-se quando a água se torna disponível, via a rápida formação de novas folhas, com taxas fotossintéticas muito maiores que as de plantas não-estressadas, de modo a compensar pelas perdas de produção; com efeito, a produção aproxima-se da produção de cultivos bem irrigados. A mandioca pode extrair, lentamente, água das camadas profundas do solo, uma característica de grande importância em ambientes semio-áridos sazonalmente secos. A varredura de um grande número de acessos nesses ambientes mostrou que a produção é significativamente correlacionada com as taxas fotossintéticas da parte superior da copa, e essa associação foi atribuída principalmente a fatores não-estomáticos (anatômicos/bioquímicos). Materiais parentais tanto com altos rendimentos e elevadas taxas fotossintéticas foram identificados para incorporação em programas de seleção e de melhoramento de cultivares adaptadas a secas prolongadas associadas com altas temperaturas e ar seco, condições que podem ser ainda mais exacerbadas pelas mudanças climáticas globais nas regiões tropicais.

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      Hydraulic lift and water use by plants: implications for water balance, performance and plant-plant interactions

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        Hydraulic lift: water efflux from upper roots improves effectiveness of water uptake by deep roots

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          Selectable traits to increase crop photosynthesis and yield of grain crops.

          The grain yield of cereals has almost doubled this century as a result of genetic manipulation by plant breeding. Surprisingly, there has been no change in the rate of photosynthesis per unit leaf area to accompany these increases. However, total photosynthesis has increased as a result of an increase in leaf area, daily duration of photosynthesis or leaf area duration. There remain substantial opportunities to continue to improve total photosynthesis and crop yield genetically using conventional breeding practices. Selectable traits are discussed here in the context of increasing total above-ground biomass under favourable conditions. Opportunities exist to alter crop duration and the timing of crop development to match it better to radiation, temperature and vapour pressure during crop growth, and to increase the rate of development of early leaf area to achieve rapid canopy closure. The importance of these traits will depend on the environment in which the crop is grown. Increases in crop photosynthesis through breeding are also likely to come via indirect means. Selection for a high and sustained stomatal conductance during the period of stem elongation is one way. Increasing assimilate allocation to the reproductive primordia so as to establish a large potential sink should also indirectly increase total crop photosynthesis. Evidence in the major grain crops suggests that by anthesis the capacity for photosynthesis is high and that photosynthesis is not limiting during grain filling. To use this surplus capacity it is suggested that carbon and nitrogen partitioning to the reproductive meristem be increased so as to establish a high potential grain number and the potential for a large grain size. It is then expected that additional photosynthesis will follow, either by a longer daily duration of photosynthesis or by an extended leaf area duration.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical Colombia
            Contributors
            Role: ND
            Journal
            bjpp
            Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology
            Braz. J. Plant Physiol.
            Brazilian Journal of Plant Physiology (Campos dos Goytacazes )
            1677-9452
            December 2007
            : 19
            : 4
            : 257-286
            S1677-04202007000400003
            10.1590/S1677-04202007000400003

            http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

            Product
            Product Information: SciELO Brazil
            Categories
            PLANT SCIENCES

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