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Foliar calcium spray confers drought stress tolerance in maize via modulation of plant growth, water relations, proline content and hydrogen peroxide activity

Naeem, Muhammad, Naeem, Muhammad Shahbaz, Ahmad, Rashid, Ihsan, Muhammad Zahid, Ashraf, Muhammad Yasin, Hussain, Yasir, Fahad, Shah
Archiv für Acker- und Pflanzenbau und Bodenkunde 2018 v.64 no.1 pp. 116-131
Zea mays, calcium, climate, corn, cultivars, drought tolerance, foliar application, grain yield, hydrogen peroxide, photosynthesis, plant growth, proline, stomatal conductance, sugars, water potential, water stress
Water and nutrient restrictions are the factors that limiting growth of maize in arid/semi-arid climate. Calcium (Ca²⁺) uptake is affected severely under drought stress (DS). The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of DS and foliar applied Ca²⁺ on growth, physiological, biochemical, yield and grain-nutrient content in two maize cultivars i.e. drought-tolerantDekalb-6525 and drought-sensitive Yousafwala-hybrid. The study comprised of two phases; firstly the best rate of Ca²⁺ (20, 40 and 60 mg L−1) was evaluated. Secondly, optimized rate of Ca²⁺ (40 mg L−1) was used to assess physio-biochemical and yield responses of maize under DS. The applied DS caused significant reduction in maize growth, water-status, photosynthesis and grain nutrient contents. Foliar Ca²⁺ markedly improved plant growth, water-potential (18%), turgor-potential (75%), photosynthesis (45%), stomatal-conductance (47%), transpiration rate (43%) and accumulation of total soluble sugars (20%) along with decline in H2O2 content (23%) in both cultivars under DS. Furthermore, optimized rate of Ca²⁺ improved maize grain yield and quality under water-deficit conditions. Cultivar Dekalb-6525 presented significant response to Ca²⁺ over Yousafwala-hybrid. Results of the study surmise that foliar supply of Ca²⁺ is an effective approach to make plants vigorous to thrive under limited-water supply.