Drought is a major abiotic stress factor limiting crop production. Identification of genetic factors involved in plant responses to drought stress will provide a solid foundation to improve drought resistance. Sorghum is well adapted to hot dry environments and regarded as a model for studying drought resistance among the grasses. Significant progress in genome mapping of this crop has also been made. In sorghum, rapid premature leaf death generally occurs when water is limited during the grain filling period. Premature leaf senescence, in turn, leads to charcoal rot, stalk lodging, and significant yield loss. More than 80% of commercial sorghum hybrids in the United States are grown under non-irrigated conditions and although most of them have pre-flowering drought resistance, many do not have any significant post-flowering drought resistance. Stay-green is one form of drought resistance mechanism, which gives sorghum resistance to premature senescence under soil moisture stress during the post-flowering period. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) studies with recombinant inbred lines (RILs) and near-isogenic lines (NILs) identified several genomic regions associated with resistance to pre-flowering and post-flowering drought stress. We have identified four genomic regions associated with the stay-green trait using a RIL population developed from B35 × Tx7000. These four major stay-green QTLs were consistently identified in all field trials and accounted for 53.5% of the phenotypic variance. We review the progress in mapping stay-green QTLs as a component of drought resistance in sorghum. The molecular genetic dissection of the QTLs affecting stay-green will provide further opportunities to elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms involved in drought resistance in sorghum and other grasses.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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