In order to determine early selection parameters for drought stress tolerance, an experiment was carried out, in situ, in pots under controlled climatic conditions. Drought stress tolerance of eight “kabuli” chickpea type accessions (Béja1, Amdoun 1, Nayer, Kasseb, Bochra, FLIP96-114C, FLIP88-42C and ILC3279) was evaluated with four amounts of irrigation: 100, 75, 50 and 25% of the water reserve easily usable (WREU). The assessment of the drought stress intensity on the chickpea genotypes was based on four parameters namely: the relative water content, the foliar index, the chlorophylls (a and b) contents and the chlorophyll fluorescence parameters. The first three parameters require destructive vegetable material techniques and various handling which can bring about many errors. On the other hand, the chlorophyll fluorescenceparameters have the advantage of being non-destructive, direct reading, reliable and rapid. The results analysis showed that the drought stress has negatively affected all the studied parameters. The chickpea genotypes had a broad genotypic variability toward the drought stress and various physiological and chlorophyll fluorescence answers. The identification of the drought stress tolerant genotypes appears complicated and uncertain. The drought tolerance index showed that genotypes: ILC3279, Béja1 and Nayer are the most tolerant; whereas FLIP96-114C, FLIP88-42C and Kasseb are the most sensitive.
Key words: Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L), early tests, selection, drought tolerance.
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