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Book: Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture
Published by: Crop Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy



  1.  p. 257-273
    CSSA Special Publication 32.
    Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture

    Srinivas C. Rao and John Ryan (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-611-3


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Drought Tolerance in Chickpea and Lentil—Present Status and Future Strategies

  1. Rajinder S. Malhotra,
  2. Ashutosh Sarker and
  3. Mohan C. Saxena
  1. ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria


Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and lentil (Lens culinaris Medik. subsp. culinaris) are important cool-season food legumes globally. These crops encounter numerous biotic and abiotic stresses among which drought is the most widespread. Substantial yield losses have been reported due to drought stress. Various techniques for evaluation of drought tolerance and various mechanisms of drought tolerance are reviewed, and their merits and demerits are discussed in this chapter. Most laboratory screening techniques have limitations for use in breeding programs and evaluation of a large number of materials. The field screening techniques are, however, more satisfactory and are in use in crop improvement programs in different countries. To combat drought in chickpea and lentil in West Asia and North Africa region, where rainfall takes place in winter months, the key to success of crop improvement is to maximize the water-use efficiency in water-limited environments, thus making these crops remunerative to the farmers and able to retain their place in the cropping systems. Our studies indicate that winter sowing of chickpea in low- to medium-altitude areas and lentil in high altitude areas increase productivity due to increased water-use efficiency and escape of terminal drought. Using various techniques at ICARDA, it has been possible to select drought-tolerant chickpea and lentil genotypes, which are being shared with national programs. As drought is a very complex phenomenon, use of biotechnological tools for increasing efficiency of selection for drought tolerance is advocated.

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