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J Exp Bot. 2010 Aug;61(13):3499-507. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq199. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

New phenotyping methods for screening wheat and barley for beneficial responses to water deficit.

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  • 1CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.


This review considers stomatal conductance as an indicator of genotypic differences in the growth response to water stress. The benefits of using stomatal conductance are compared with photosynthetic rate and other indicators of genetic variation in water stress tolerance, along with the use of modern phenomics technologies. Various treatments for screening for genetic diversity in response to water deficit in controlled environments are considered. There is no perfect medium: there are pitfalls in using soil in pots, and in using hydroponics with ionic and non-ionic osmotica. Use of mixed salts or NaCl is recommended over non-ionic osmotica. Developments in infrared thermography provide new and feasible screening methods for detecting genetic variation in the stomatal response to water deficit in controlled environments and in the field.

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