Effects of Increasing Salinity by Drip Irrigation on Total Grain Weight Show High Yield Potential of Putative Salt-Tolerant Mutagenized Wheat Lines

Mousavi, Hesam; Bruning, Bas; Straten, Gerrit Van; Almås, Åsgeir R.; Lethin, Johanna; Naik, Nupur; Hassan, Sameer; Olsson, Olof; Aronsson, Henrik


Twenty-three lines from a mutagenized Bangladeshi BARI Gom-25 wheat population that included previously identified salt-tolerant lines, and the BARI Gom-25 control variety, were cultivated in a drip-irrigated salinity test field at Salt Farm Texel, Netherlands, to assess their performance during salt stress in European climatic conditions. Lines were tested at irrigation salinity levels of 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 dS m−1 in four repetitions of plots with 24 plants per plot. Average plant height, tiller number, spike length, frequency of live plants, and total grain weight (TGW) were recorded as functions of seasonal mean pore water salinity in the soil. Increases in salinity triggered reductions in all evaluated variables of the assessed lines and the control variety. However, nine mutagenized lines had at least twofold higher mean TGW than the control variety, 18.73 ± 4.19 g/plot at 1–16 dS m−1 salinity levels. Common models of salt tolerance confirmed this pattern, but there were no clear differences in salinity tolerance parameter estimates between the mutagenized lines and the control variety. Thus, despite the apparent similarity in responses of all lines to salinity increase, we clearly identified lines that tended to have higher TGW at given salinities than the control variety. This higher TGW at the full range of salinity treatments indicates not only a possible higher salinity tolerance but a higher yield potential as well. The mechanisms involved clearly warrant further attention.