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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1268: XI International Symposium on Protected Cultivation in Mild Winter Climates and I International Symposium on Nettings and Screens in Horticulture

Lettuce reaction to drought stress: automated high-throughput phenotyping of plant growth and photosynthetic performance

Authors:   M. Sorrentino, G. Colla, Y. Rouphael, K. Panzarová, M. Trtílek
Keywords:   Lactuca sativa L., Salanova®, high-throughput phenotyping, mild-drought stress
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1268.17
The unavailability of fresh water is one of the main concerns for horticulture nowadays and it is supposed to get worse in the coming future. Some crops are more vulnerable than others to drought stress such as leafy vegetables. It is therefore essential to identify and select cultivars that can overcome this kind of abiotic stress with limited or no substantial reduction in final yield, and to do it in a fast and effective way. High throughput phenotyping combined with advances in genome sequences provide efficient and reproducible approaches that are facilitating the discovery of genes and cultivars with improved plant performance under sub-optimal conditions. Drought resistance of two different Salanova® cultivars, ‘Aquino’ (green butterhead) and ‘Barlach’ (red butterhead), was tested, by using PlantScreen™, a high-throughput non-invasive imaging platform developed at Photon Systems Instruments (PSI, Czech Republic). The two cultivars performed similarly in both control (70% soil water content) and mild drought stress conditions (40% soil water content). The results demonstrated that ‘Aquino’ grew faster in control conditions at early growth phase, while in later phase it is the red ‘Barlach’ that reached larger biomass. In drought conditions growth performance of both cultivars was rapidly compromised. However, ‘Barlach’ grew better and had improved biomass in both control and mild-drought stress conditions in comparison with ‘Aquino’. Light curve protocol was used to address light use efficiency of the two cultivars. Interestingly, we observed a rapid decline in PS II operating efficiency already three days upon mild drought stress initiation. Nevertheless, there was no obvious difference in the performances between the two cultivars. In conclusion, the results of quantitative analysis of plant growth and photosynthetic performance, allowed to set up a protocol for high-throughput image-based analysis of different morpho-physiological traits associated with the early phase of drought response.

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