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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00352

Using growth and transpiration phenotyping under controlled conditions to select water efficient banana genotypes.

  • 1Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement, Division of Crop Biotechnics, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, United Kingdom
  • 3Bioversity International, Banana Genetic Resources, Belgium
  • 4Banana Breeding, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Tanzania), Tanzania

Water deficit is one of the world’s major constraints in agriculture and will aggravate in the future. Banana (Musa spp.) is an important crop that needs vast amounts of water for optimal production. The International Transit Center of Bioversity International holds the world’s biggest collection of banana biodiversity (>1500 accessions). The long-term aim of this research is to evaluate the potential within this collection for climate smart agricultural usage. Therefore we developed a phenotyping setup under controlled environmental conditions and we selected 32 representatives of the Musa biodiversity (29 cultivars and 3 wild relatives) for evaluation. The best performing genotypes accumulated 6-7 times more biomass than the least performing. Eight genotypes (5 ABB, 1 AAB and 2 AAA) invest under osmotic stress significantly more in root growth than in leaf growth. We predict therefore that they have a good potential for a high production under rain fed conditions with a short dry season. To gain more insight in the transpiration physiology, we gravimetrically monitored individual plant transpiration over the diurnal period. All analyzed genotypes showed a marked reduction in transpiration rate in the afternoon. Moreover, the timing of this onset as well as its impact on total transpiration was genotype dependent. This phenomenon was more pronounced in 13 genotypes (8 ABB, 2 AAB, 2AA, 1 BB). Banana is a crop originating from the humid tropics and has developed a strong root pressure to maintain an efficient water and nutrient transport even under saturated relative humidity conditions. Therefore, we hypothesize that the diurnal transpiration decline contributes to a higher water use efficiency without compromising the nutrient transport. Of the 8 genotypes that had the best growth under osmotic stress, all analyzed ABB cultivars have a lower maximal transpiration rate, keep this maximal transpiration for a shorter time and therefore consume less water per day. We conclude that lab models are very useful to study the biodiversity and to identify different traits that contribute to a better drought tolerance/avoidance. We encourage researchers investigating other crops to start exploring their collections.

Keywords: Biodiversity, phenotyping, Transpiration monitoring, climate smart agriculture, Water Use Effeciency

Received: 22 Nov 2018; Accepted: 07 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Susana Araújo, Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica (ITQB-NOVA), Portugal

Reviewed by:

FRANCISCO PEREZ-ALFOCEA, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Spain
CHAN YUL YOO, University of California, Riverside, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 van wesemael, Kissel, Eyland, Lawson, Swennen and Carpentier. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sebastien C. Carpentier, Banana Genetic Resources, Bioversity International, Leuven, Belgium,