Osmotic adjustment in spring durum wheat pollen grains under induced drought stress


L.P. Khlebova, O.V. Bychkova, A.M. Titova, M.A. Rozova, A.I. Ziborov

Osmotic adjustment (OA) is recognized as one of the main mechanisms of drought tolerance in crops. OA is realized by reducing the osmotic potential due to accumulation of organic and inorganic osmolytes in response to a water deficit. This mechanism is manifested in all plant cells, including pollen grains. We carried out pollen analysis to differentiate the genotypes of spring durum wheat in tolerance to drought. Eight wheat assessments of different ecological and geographical origin from the collection of the Altai Research Institute of Agriculture, Russia were studied. They were Omskaya stepnaya, Zhemchuzhina Sibiri, Bezenchukskaya 210, Solnechnaya 573, Oazis, Pamyati Yanchenko, 12S1-14, and 12S2-24. Plants were grown at the field plots in 2016. Drought was simulated by adding 55% PEG 6000 to the culture medium. Pollen samples were incubated in the dark at 24 ± 1 °C during 48 hours at 70-80% relative humidity. To assess the efficiency of cation accumulation due to transmembrane migration from the external environment, 10 mM KCL as the osmolyte was added to the pollen culture medium containing 55% PEG 6000. Plasmolytic phenomena were assessed under a microscope by changing the cytoplasm area by scanning the surface of each pollen grain. Quantitative measurements of the projected area of pollen cytoplasm were carried out. We have established significant differences among varieties of spring durum wheat relative to OA mechanisms responsible for dehydration avoidance. The response of pollen grains to in vitro induced osmotic stress reflected various strategies for the behavior of genotypes involving or not transporting K+ cations from the cultivation medium. Most of the accessions tested are capable of supporting the cellular turgor, using only intrinsic adjustment mechanism, or combining it with osmolyte induced OA. One line has been shown to exhibit the induced osmotic adaptation, which caused some restoration of the projected cytoplasm area. One line did not resist osmotic stress, reducing the pollen turgor both under stress and in the presence of osmolyte. We succeeded in revealing a good correspondence between the pollen reactions under induced in vitro osmotic stress and the field drought tolerance index of genotypes. This made it possible to test the diversity of the accessions for tolerance to drought by scanning the pollen surface. Assessment of the behavior of the male gametophyte population of wheat under conditions of induced stress allows screening and determining drought-tolerant genotypes.

Keywords: Drought; osmotic adjustment; pollen grain; durum wheat; field drought tolerance index

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