Biotic and abiotic stress combined with the use of less productive local cultivars cause low production of finger millet in Ethiopia. This research was conducted to investigate acidity tolerance of finger millet accessions. Preliminary screening was done on 288 accessions and six improved national cultivars of finger millet. Twenty randomly selected and surface-sterilized seeds of each germplasm were wrapped and germinated in a tissue paper in Petri dishes. Thirty six hours-old seedlings of uniform size were transferred to the nutrient solutions having 500 µM KNO3, 500 µM CaCl2, 500 µM NH4NO3, 150 µM MgSO4.7H2O, 10 µM KH2PO4, 2 µM FeCl3 (III) and 112.5 µM Al2 (SO4)3.18H2O and allowed to grow for a further 8 days along with tolerant and susceptible references. Characterization with (112.5 µM) and without (0 µM) Al conditions was also done on 80 accessions. After eight days root and shoot length of seedlings were measured using a ruler, while fresh weight of these seedlings was taken using a digital balance. Mean separation and analysis of variance on each treatment was conducted using SPSS software. Relative total root length (RTRL) and root growth inhibition (RGI) were also estimated. From screening of 288 accessions, 75 (26.04%) of them were Al tolerant, while 213 (73.95%) of them were medium to susceptible. From characterization, 63 (78.75%) showed significant Al stress in root length, 23 (28.75%) in fresh weight, while no distinct and visible symptom were observed in shoot growth. The study clearly showed the possibility of developing lines and genotypes that can tolerate acidity in Ethiopian context and support agricultural development in acidic soils in the country and in the world.
Key words: Acid soils, finger millet, hydroponics, screening, plant roots.
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