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Inducing drought tolerance in wheat by applying natural and synthetic plant growth promoters

Shaukat, Muhammad, Ahmad, Ashfaq, Rasul, Fahd, Khaliq, Tasneem, Mudassir, Muhammad Akhlaq, Yasin, Mubashra
Zeitschrift für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde 2017 v.180 no.6 pp. 739-747
Moringa, Triticum aestivum, antioxidant activity, catalase, developmental stages, drought, drought tolerance, dry matter accumulation, farmers, foliar spraying, grain yield, growth promotion, irrigation rates, irrigation water, leaf area index, leaf extracts, net assimilation rate, peroxidase, plant growth substances, superoxide dismutase, tillering, water shortages, water stress, wheat
Crop productivity in future may be limited due to water scarcity. However, foliar spray of plant growth promoters may boost crop production even in adverse environments. In the present study, foliar application of one natural (moringa leaf extract, 3% MLE) and four synthetic (Polydol, Multisol, Classic, and Asahi Star) were applied at tillering, jointing, booting, and heading growth stages of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) during severe, moderate, and light drought and well‐watered condition. No spray and water spray were taken as controls. Results showed significant reduction in growth parameters such as total dry matter production, mean crop growth rate, net assimilation rate, leaf area index, and duration due to drought employed at various phenophases of wheat. However, improvement in these parameters was observed after foliar application of growth promoters, whereas interactive effects between factors were found non‐significant. The activities of catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and peroxidase (POD) were more accelerated under drought treatments from exogenously supplied growth promoters. Foliar application of promoters significantly alleviated drought‐induced reduction of yield and related traits. Grain weight (15%) and grain yield (27%) were improved due to exogenously applied MLE under moderate drought stress treatments relative to controls. Furthermore, 16% higher grain yield and 17% saving of irrigation water over fully irrigated and without promoter treatment (farmers' practice) was recorded from foliar‐applied MLE under skipped irrigation at jointing. In conclusion, foliar‐applied MLE may ameliorate drought‐induced deleterious effects by enhancing antioxidant activities under drought stress.