Department of Botany, Plant Cell and Stress Biology Lab, R.P.M. College, University of Calcutta, Uttarpara, Hooghly, West Bengal, India.
Background: Both lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) and grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) in the family Fabaceae are two important cool-season food legumes, often experiencing water stress conditions during growth and maturity. Objective: The present study was undertaken to ascertain the response of these two crops under different water stress regimes. Materials and Methods: Different morpho-physiological and biochemical parameters were studied in a pot experiment under controlled environmental conditions. Along with control (proper irrigation, 0 stress), three sets of plants were subjected to mild (6 d), moderate (13 d) and severe (20 d) water stress by withholding irrigation at the appropriate time. Results: Compared with control, plant growth traits and seed yield components reduced significantly in both crops with increasing period of water stress, resulting in lowering of dry mass with more severe effect on lentil compared with grass pea. Foliar Relative Water Content (RWC) (%), K + /Na + ratio, chlorophyll (chl) a, chl a/b ratio, stomatal conductance and net photosynthetic rate declined considerably in both crops under water stress. Leaf-free proline level increased significantly in both crops, but it decreased markedly in nodules of lentil and remained unchanged in grass pea. Nodulation was also affected due to water stress. The impairment in growth traits and physio-biochemical parameters under water stress was manifested in reduction of drought tolerance efficiency of both crops. Conclusion: Impact of water stress was more severe on lentil compared with grass pea, and modulation of growth traits signified necessity of a detailed strategy in breeding of food legumes under water stress.
Keywords: Food legumes, growth, nodulation, water stress, yield.