Abstracts on Global Climate Change

Jun 2006

Screening for high-temperature tolerant cotton cultivars by testing in vitro pollen germination, pollen tube growth and boll retention

Liu, Z Yuan, YL Liu, SQ Yu, XN Rao, LQ


With radical global climate change and global warming, high temperature stress has become one of major factors exerting a major influence on crop production. In the cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)-growing areas of China, especially in the Yangtze River valley, unexpected periodic episodes of extreme heat stress usually occur in July and August, the peak time of cotton flowering and boll loading, resulting in lower boll set and lint yield. Breeding programs for screening high temperature-tolerant cotton germplasm and cultivars are urgent in order to stabilize yield in the current and future warmer weather conditions. In the present study, 14 cotton cultivars were quantified for in vitro pollen germination and pollen tube growth in response to temperatures ranging from 10 to 50 degrees C at 5 degrees C intervals. Different cotton genotypes varied in their in vitro pollen germination and pollen tube length responses to the different temperatures. Maximum pollen germination and pollen tube length ranged from 25.2% to 56.2% and from 414 to 682 mu m, respectively. The average cardinal temperatures (T-min, T-opt, and T-max) also varied among the 14 cultivars and were 11.8, 27.3, and 42.7 degrees C for pollen germination and 11.8, 27.8, and 44.1 degrees C for maximum pollen tube length. Variations in boll retention and boll numbers per plant in field experiments were found for the 14 cotton cultivars and the boll retention and boll retained per plant on 20 August varied considerably in different years according to weather conditions. Boll retention on 20 August was highly correlated with maximum pollen germination (R-2= 0.84) and pollen tube length (R-2=0.64). A screening method based on principle component analysis of the combination of pollen characteristics in an in vitro experiment and boll retention testing in the field environment was used in the present study and, as a result, the 14 cotton cultivars could be classified as tolerant, moderately tolerant, moderately susceptible and susceptible to high temperature.

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