Drought is a serious climatic hazard to crop production, more especially when it occurs repeatedly. This created a need to identify repetitive drought tolerant varieties that recover following exposure to drought. Twenty accessions of Solanum aethiopicum Shum group were evaluated for their response to repeated drought exposure in a screen house at Uganda Christian University stressed and well-watered conditions in a split-plot arrangement. Data was collected on growth and yield parameters namely leaf area, plant canopy width, plant height, plant branching, fresh leaf weight, fresh shoot biomass, and harvest index. Exposure of plants to repetitive drought stress led to significant decrease in all evaluated growth parameters at p<0.001 except for plant branching. Similarly, yield parameters exhibited a highly significant difference among accessions and between water levels at p<0.001. Principal component analysis of growth rate traits showed that leaf area contributed to the highest variation for recovery from repetitive drought stress among accessions. The accessions that recovered best from drought stress include SAS108/2015, SAS163/P/2015, SAS183/G/2015, and SAS168/G/2015. For yield parameters, the accessions SAS137/2015, SAS148/2015, SAS108/P/2015, and SAS160/2015 had the highest dry shoot biomass. These findings indicate prospect for improvement of tolerance to repetitive drought stress in S. aethiopicum Shum group.
Key words: African eggplant, leafy vegetable, drought tolerance, principal component analysis, growth response.
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