Testing maize and sorghum resilience towards nitrogen and water stresses in progress.

"Stress" in crops is any external factor that negatively influences on productivity. The natural variation in diversity panels of maize and sorghum is examined to enhance adaptation to nitrogen and water stresses, being already major constrains due to climate change. Three Mediterranean field trials for testing resilience towards these stress factors are in progress. Preliminary observations from Anzola trial fields in Italy show clear differences between stress (nitrogen shortage and drought) and no stress (nitrogen fertilization and irrigation) in terms of stand establishment, growth and development.

Trial fields in Anzola, Italy, show differences between stress (-N and -H2O) and no stress (+N and +H2O) in terms of stand establishment and in terms of growth and development.  Photos taken in July 2021 by Ephrem Habyarimana, CREA, Italy.

August 2021

Under no stress conditions (+N and +H2O) stand establishment, plant height and seed setting are conspicuously greater than under stress.

Genetic variability is observed under stressed environment e.g., some plant genotypes are tolerant, some are not, some are silking, some are not, and some are setting seeds, while again some are not. Important knowledge is to be found out of these stress resilient strains. The task is to look into the genetic and phenotypic data, to identify and validate which gene or chromosome portion are responsible for this promising behavior and to proceed with downstream introgressions.

The above resilience observations are similar between maize and sorghum. We are practicing staggered seed harvesting for quality purposes from sorghum plants from non-stressed conditions.

Ephrem Habyarimana, CREA/Italy, harvesting sorghum seeds. August 2021.

Maize trials will be completed by the end of summer, and sorghum trials by the end of September.

For more information about the project go to www.c4future.eu 

Contact: Ephrem Habyarimana: ephrem.habyarimana@crea.gov.it

Project C4FUTURE - Fortifying and Enhancing Resilience in C4 Crops for Current and Future Climate Change Adversities - ERA-NET Cofund on Sustainable Crop Production - SusCrop -