J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2012, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (4): 238-249.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2012.01118.x

Special Issue: Abiotic Stresses

• Invited Expert Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phenotyping for Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Maize

Benhilda Masuka1, Jose Luis Araus2, Biswanth Das4, Kai Sonder4 and Jill E. Cairns1*   

  1. 1International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), P.O. Box MP 163, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
    2Unitat de Fisiologia Vegetal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona 08028, Spain
    4CIMMYT, Km 45 Carretera Mexico-Veracruz, Texcoco, Mexico 56130, Mexico
  • Received:2011-12-22 Accepted:2012-03-21 Published:2012-04-01
  • About author:*Corresponding author Tel: +26 3430 1807; Fax: +26 3430 1327; E-mail: j.cairns@cgiar.org


The ability to quickly develop germplasm having tolerance to several complex polygenic inherited abiotic and biotic stresses combined is critical to the resilience of cropping systems in the face of climate change. Molecular breeding offers the tools to accelerate cereal breeding; however, suitable phenotyping protocols are essential to ensure that the much-anticipated benefits of molecular breeding can be realized. To facilitate the full potential of molecular tools, greater emphasis needs to be given to reducing the within-experimental site variability, application of stress and characterization of the environment and appropriate phenotyping tools. Yield is a function of many processes throughout the plant cycle, and thus integrative traits that encompass crop performance over time or organization level (i.e. canopy level) will provide a better alternative to instantaneous measurements which provide only a snapshot of a given plant process. Many new phenotyping tools based on remote sensing are now available including non-destructive measurements of growth-related parameters based on spectral reflectance and infrared thermometry to estimate plant water status. Here we describe key field phenotyping protocols for maize with emphasis on tolerance to drought and low nitrogen.

Masuka B, Araus JL, Das B, Sonder K, Cairns JE (2012) Phenotyping for abiotic stress tolerance in maize. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 54(4), 238–249.

Key words: Drought, low nitrogen tolerance, maize, phenotyping, spatial variability.

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