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Comparative Assessment of Drought and Salt Stress Tolerance in Three Varieties of Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.)

School of Bioengineering and Biosciences, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara-144 411 (Punjab), India
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Drought and salt stress are the two major abiotic determinants of plant growth and productivity. Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.) is one of the oldest and most revered cultivated cereal crops belonging to the family ‘Poaceae’. It grows rapidly in water-stressed environment. This study deals with comparative assessment of drought and salt responses of three pearl millet varieties, namely, PBFH-1, PCB-164 and FBC-16 under varying concentrations of mannitol and sodium chloride, respectively. As expected, in all the three varieties, the seed germination percentage, shoot and root dry weight and plantlet height decreased with the increase in drought and salt stress. The highest values of the aforementioned parameters were observed in the untreated controls and lowest values were recorded in the test samples with 500 mM mannitol and 125 mM NaCl treatment, respectively. During the experiment, FBC-16 showed less decrease in germination percentage, root and shoot weight and plantlet height as compared to the other two varieties. These results indicate that FBC-16 variety is more tolerant to drought and salt stress. Thus, in future, after further experimental evidences, this variety can be strategically grown as an alternative to other cereal crops, under water and salt-stressed environments.

Key words : Pearl millet, drought stress, salt stress, seed germination