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- Author or Editor: Bilal Ahmad Khan x
Drought is one of the major environmental challenges constraining the production of agricultural crops, including carrot. Seed germination is the initial and most critical stage of crop establishment, and it is very sensitive to drought stress because water scarcity affects the enzymatic solubilization of stored metabolites in seeds that provide energy for the growth of germinating embryo. Few studies evaluating the effect of drought stress on carrot seed germination of more than a few cultivars grown under stress have been published. Therefore, the present study was designed to define the appropriate osmotic potential for evaluating drought tolerance of carrot, evaluate the response of diverse carrot germplasm to drought stress during seed germination to identify drought-tolerant accessions that may be used by plant breeders, and evaluate the relation between amylase activity and germination rate of drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive accessions. To identify an appropriate screening osmotic potential, two commercial cultivars and two United States Department of Agriculture inbreeds were evaluated at six osmotic potentials (00, −0.30, −0.51, −0.58, −0.80, and −1.05 MPa); −0.58 MPa was identified as the optimal osmotic potential for screening the drought tolerance of carrot seed. Cultivated and wild carrot plant introductions (PIs) (n = 200 and n = 50, respectively) from the National Plant Germplasm System were evaluated for drought tolerance under nonstress and simulated drought stress conditions (00 MPa and −0.58 MPa, respectively) by calculating the absolute decrease (AD) in percent germination, inhibition index (II), relative drought tolerance (RDT), and drought tolerance index (DTI). All measurements of drought tolerance identified significant differences among accessions; the AD in seed germination ranged from 0.0% to 69.3%, II ranged from 0.0% to 80.2%, RDT ranged from 0.2 to 1.0, and DTI ranged from 0.13 to 1.47. All wild carrot accessions displayed low levels of drought tolerance, but PI 652387 and PI 177381 (both from Turkey) and PI 274297 (Pakistan) were most drought-sensitive, whereas cultivated accessions PI 643114 (United States), PI 652208 (China), and PI 502347 (Uzbekistan) were most drought-tolerant. Tolerant accessions displayed much higher α-amylase activity under nonstress conditions than sensitive accessions, and α-amylase activity of tolerant accessions was also reduced less with seed germination under increasing osmotic potential (range, 0.0 to −1.05 MPa) than sensitive accessions over 24, 48, and 72 hours of seed germination. This is the first evaluation of drought stress tolerance during seed germination and the enzymatic response of diverse carrot germplasms under simulated drought stress.