Phenotyping transgenic wheat for drought resistance

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Realistic experimental protocols to screen for drought adaptation in controlled conditions are crucial if high throughput phenotyping is to be used for the identification of high performance lines, and is especially important in the evaluation of transgenes where stringent biosecurity measures restrict the frequency of open field trials. Transgenic DREB1A-wheat events were selected under greenhouse conditions by evaluating survival and recovery under severe drought (SURV) as well as for water use efficiency (WUE). Greenhouse experiments confirmed the advantages of transgenic events in recovery after severe water stress. Under field conditions, the group of transgenic lines did not generally outperform the controls in terms of grain yield under water deficit. However, the events selected for WUE were identified as lines that combine an acceptable yield—even higher yield (WUE-11) under well irrigated conditions—and stable performance across the different environments generated by the experimental treatments.

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