Small temporal differences in water uptake among varities of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) are critical for grain yield under terminal drought.

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-462
Number of pages26
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date10 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
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Background and aim
Intuitively, access to water from the soil at key phenological stages is important for adaptation to drought. This study aimed to assess the temporal pattern of water extraction under terminal drought stress.

Pearl millet genotypes with varying levels of terminal drought tolerance were grown in a lysimetric system with a soil volume and plant spacing similar to field conditions. Water extraction was monitored until maturity under differing water regimes.

The yield did not differ among genotypes under well-watered (WW) conditions, and the water extraction profile of WW plants was similar across all genotypes. In contrast, the yield of sensitive genotypes was 30–100 % lower than that of tolerant lines under water stress (WS). The total volumes of water extracted by tolerant and sensitive genotypes were similar under WS; however, tolerant genotypes extracted less water prior to anthesis, and more water after anthesis. Grain yield was positively related to the amount of water extracted during week three after panicle emergence. Increased water extraction after anthesis benefitted the tillers more than the main culm and was correlated with higher staygreen scores.

Increased water uptake after anthesis, which results from earlier water conservation during pre-anthesis, increases yield under terminal drought in pearl millet.


  • Roots, water extraction, lysimeter, drought QTL, water conservation