Genotypic variation in drought stress response and subsequent recovery of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Three wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes, Sadovo, Katya and Prelom, with different tolerance to drought were comparatively evaluated in terms of leaf respiratory responses to progressing dehydration and consecutive rewatering. Under drought stress, the respiration of all varieties gradually decreased, as the drought-tolerant Katya showed the most pronounced decline at earlier stages of dehydration. When water stress intensified, this genotype gave relatively stable respiration rates compared with the drought-sensitive varieties. Additionally, dehydrated Katya leaves displayed lower stomatal conductance and higher photosynthesis values, which resulted in greater water use efficiency during the dehydration period. Combination of drought stress and short-term changes in leaf temperature also induced genotype-specific response that differed from the response to drought only. Over the whole temperature range, the leaves of Katya exposed to dehydration for 14 days, showed higher respiration rates compared to the drought-sensitive varieties. The sensitive varieties maintained higher respiration rates under control conditions and mild dehydration, and very low rates under severe drought. In Katya, respiration and photosynthesis were fully restored from the stress within the first day of rewatering. The drought-sensitive genotypes displayed a considerably slower recovering capacity. The results are discussed in terms of possible physiological mechanisms underlying plant tolerance to drought.