Different cultivars differ inherently in their response to drought and those cultivars best adapted to growth in arid and semiarid conditions form the most uniform and vigorous stands when grown under water deficits. The seeds of five wheat cultivars(GA-2002, Chakwal-97, Uqab-2000, Chakwal-50 and Wafaq-2001) were subjected to five different levels of osmotic stress; 0 bars (distilled water, control), -2, -4, -6 and -8 bars to assess the effect of osmotic stress on germination percentage, mean germination time, coleoptile length, proline and sugar amounts. The investigations were performed as factorial experiments under complete randomized design (CRD). Germination percentage, mean germination time and coleoptile length were shown to decrease with increasing osmotic stress, whereas a progressive increase in proline and sugar content were observed with increasing osmotic stress. The response of five cultivars examined under various levels of osmotic stress differed dramatically. Chakwal-50 and GA-2002 were amongst best performers, showing high germination rate, longest coleoptile length, highest proline values and sugar contents when compared with other cultivars under stress conditions. These were proven to be the most tolerant cultivars. Performance of Wafaq-2001 and Uqab-2000 were poor when compared to the other cultivars under limited water stress conditions.
Key words: Wheat, Triticum aestivum, water stress, osmotic stress, proline, sugar, seedling, germination.
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