J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2006, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (11): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2006.00350.x

• Research Articles •    

Differential Sensitivity of Macrocarpa and Microcarpa Types of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) to Water Stress: Association of Contrasting Stress Response with Oxidative Injury

Harsh Nayyar, Smita Singh, Satwinder Kaur, Sanjeev Kumar and Hari D. Upadhyaya   

Abstract: Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is particularly sensitive to water stress at its reproductive phase and, under conditions of water stress, will abort flowers and pods, thus reducing yield potential. There are two types of chickpea: (i) Macrocarpa (“Kabuli”), which has large, rams head-shaped, light brown seeds; and (ii) Microcarpa (“Desi”), which has small, angular and dark-brown seeds. Relatively speaking, “Kabuli” has been reported to be more sensitive to water stress than “Desi”. The underlying mechanisms associated with contrasting sensitivity to water stress at the metabolic level are not well understood. We hypothesized that one of the reasons for contrasting water stress sensitivity in the two types of chickpea may be a variation in oxidative injury. In the present study, plants of both types were water stressed at the reproductive stage for 14 d. As a result of the stress, the “Kabuli” type exhibited an 80% reduction in seed yield over control compared with a 64% reduction observed for the “Desi” type. The decrease in leaf water potential (w) was faster in the “Kabuli” compared with the “Desi” type. At the end of the water stress period, w was reduced to –2.9 and –3.1 MPa in the “Desi” and “Kabuli” types, respectively, without any significant difference between them. On the last day of stress, “Kabuli” experienced 20% more membrane injury than “Desi”. The chlorophyll content and photosynthetic rate were significantly greater in “Desi” compared with “Kabuli”. The malondialdehyde and H2O2 content were markedly higher at the end of the water stress in “Kabuli” compared with “Desi”, indicating greater oxidative stress in the former. Levels of anti-oxidants, such as ascorbic acid and glutathione, were significantly higher in “Desi” than “Kabuli”. Superoxide dismutase and catalase activity did not differ significantly between the two types of chickpea, whereas on the 10th day, the activities of ascorbate peroxidase, dehydroascorbate reductase, and glutathione reductase were higher in “Desi”. These findings indicate that the greater stress tolerance in the “Desi” type may be ascribed to its superior ability to maintain better water status, which results in less oxidative damage. In addition, laboratory studies conducted by subjecting both types of chickpea to similar levels of polyethylene glycol-induced water stress and to 10 mol/L abscisic acid indicated a greater capacity of the “Desi” type to deal with oxidative stress than the “Kabuli” type.(Author for correspondence. E-mail: nayarbot@pu.ac.in and harshnayyar@hotmail.com)

Key words: “Desi”, “Kabuli”, anti-oxidants, chickpea, drought, oxidative stress.

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