Maize (Zea mays L.) is a major commercial crop, with high potential for production due to high solar radiation and low night temperature in sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the second most susceptible to drought among cereals, although phenotypic traits can be altered to improve drought resistance. Pot and field experiments were conducted to study the variability in root and physiological traits in different maturity groups of maize. Genotypes used were Sammaz 14, Sammaz 29, 2009 EVDT, 2009 TZE–W, TZE COMP-5 and 2009 TZEE, laid out in a Randomized Complete Block Design with 3 replications. The results obtained revealed no significant difference among the genotypes. However, the genotypes showed a good response to leaf temperature, canopy temperature, stomatal conductance and chlorophyll content. Variability was observed in three traits; days to anthesis, silking and anthesis silking interval. There was a significant correlation in leaf temperature in relation to fresh root weight, fresh shoot weight, dry shoot weight, dry root weight and shoot length. Root traits had positive relationship with grain yield. The genotypes had good rooting pattern development and combine with their physiological response they could be hybridized to develop drought tolerant varieties.
Key words: Correlation, drought stress, maize, maturity group, physiological traits, roots.
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