Morphological and physiological responses of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp.) cultivars to induced water stress and phosphorus nutrition

Chiulele, Rogerio Marcos (2003-12)

Thesis (MScAgric) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Cowpeas are produced under low and irregular rainfall in most of arid and semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Growth and yield are therefore reduced due to the occurrence of water stress during the growing season. Knowledge of the responses and adaptive mechanisms of cowpeas to water stress may help to improve the management practices for these areas. Therefore, three glasshouse experiments were conducted at Welgevallen Experimental Farm of the University of Stellenbosch to test the responses of two cowpea cultivars to water stress. In the first experiment, physiological responses were used to identify those physiological parameters, which can be used to distinguish between drought tolerant and susceptible cowpea cultivars. In the second experiment, some of the identified physiological parameters together with some morphological growth responses, yield and grain protein content of the same two cowpea cultivars were used to identify which is the more tolerant cultivar. Tn the third experiment, the hypothesis that increased phosphorus supply may improve the tolerance of cowpea plants to water stress and their ability of recover from the stress was tested. The results showed that water stress affected water relations, morphological growth parameters, yield and grain protein content, but increasing P supply reduced the effect of water stress and promoted more rapid recovery after re-watering. Water relations were affected by water stress because it reduced relative water content, which resulted in reduced water potential and increased leaf diffusive resistance and proline accumulation. Morphological growth responses and yields were affected because water stress reduced the leaf area, which resulted in reduced biomass production and seed yield. Lower leaf area under water stress was the result of the reduced number of leaves and leaf expansion rate, but the number of leaves was the most important parameter. Reduced seed yield was due to reduced number of pods. The responses of the two cultivars tested were different. AB Wit, which performed better under well-watered conditions was more affected by water stress due to its larger leaf area that resulted in excessive water loss by transpiration. ACH14 was more drought tolerant than AB Wit due to a combination of a more rapid stomatal closure and proline accumulation, which induced osmotic adjustment, and which in tum helped to maintain higher water potentials. The increased P supply reduced the effect of the water stress. High-P level plants showed higher root growth, which resulted in more water uptake and larger leaf area during the water stress period, and after re-watering these plants recovered more rapidly. The more rapid recovery from stress was the result of enhanced root growth and leaf expansion rate and most probably due to increased water uptake. High-P level plants also showed more rapid leaf appearance and plant growth at earlier stages compared to the low-P level plants.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Akkerbone word onder toestande van lae en wisselvallige reenval in baie ariede en semi-ariede gebiede van Afrika verbou. In hierdie gebiede word groei en produksie dikwels beperk deur water tekorte gedurende die groei seisoen. Kennis van reaksies en aanpassingsmeganismes van akkerbone teenoor water tekorte mag dus help om produksietegnieke in bogenoemde gebiede te verbeter. Om hierdie rede is drie glashuiseksperimente onder gekontroleerde toestande op die Welgevallen Proefplaas van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch uitgevoer. In die eerste eksperiment is fisiologiese reaksies van twee cultivars gebruik om eienskappe te identifiseer wat gebruik kan word om tussen droogteweerstandbiedende en droogte gevoelige cultivars te onderskei. In die tweede eksperiment is sommige van die geidentifiseerde eienskappe asook morfologiese groei, opbrengs en kwaliteitsreaksies van dieselfde twee cultivars gebruik om die meer droogte weerstandbiedende cultivar te identifiseer. In die derde eksperiment is die hipotese dat P-bemesting die droogteweerstandbiedendheid teen en herstelvermoe na droogte kan verbeter, getoets. Die resultate toon dat water tekorte beide plantwaterverhoudings, morfologiese eienskappe asook opbrengs en proteieninhoud beinvloed, maar dat hoe P-peile die invloed van water tekorte verminder en herstelverrnoe na die droogte verbeter. Plant-waterverhoudings is bemvloed omdat water tekorte relatiewe waterinhoud van plante verlaag wat aanleiding gee tot verlaagde plantwaterpotensiale, verhoogde huidmondjie weerstand en 'n toename in prolien inhoud. Morfologiese eienskappe en opbrengs is benadeel weens 'n veri aging in blaaroppervlakte wat fotosintetiese vermoe en gevolglik ook biomassaproduksie en saad opbrengs benadeel. Verlaagde blaaroppervlakte tydens water tekorte was hoofsaaklik die gevolg van 'n vermindering in aantal blare, terwyl verlaagde saadopbrengs grootliks die resultaat van 'n vermindering in aantal peule was. Die cultivar AB Wit wat die hoogste opbrengs onder gunstige groeitoestande gelewer het, is die meeste bemvloed deur water tekorte omdat die welige blaargroei van hierdie cultivar, luukse waterverbruik en groter transpirasie verliese veroorsaak het. Die cultivar ACH 14 daarteenoor het waterverliese beperk deurdat die huidmondjies vinniger gesluit het en verhoogde prolien-inhoude, osmotiese aanpassings veroorsaak het. Dit het gehelp om waterpotensiale instand te hou. Hierdie cultivar was gevolglik meer droogte weerstandbiedend as AB Wit. Hoe vlakke van P-bemesting het die effek van water tekorte verminder weens verbeterde wortelgroei. Dit het wateropname gedurende en na die peri ode van water stremming verbeter sodat plante vinniger herstel het na die droe periode. Plante wat by hoe P-peile gegroei is het ook 'n verhoogde blaarverskyningstempo en 'n toename in groei tydens die vroee ontwikkelingstadiums getoon.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/49770
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