Early seedling growth characteristics relate to the staygreen trait and Dhurrin levels in Sorghum

Yves Y. Emendack, Chad M. Hayes, Ratan Chopra, Jake Sanchez, Gloria Burow, Zhanguo Xin, John J. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Dhurrin content in leaves of the mature sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] plant is a quantitative measure of the level of pre- and postflowering drought tolerance, with high dhurrin contents expressed in postflowering droughttolerant lines. Postflowering drought tolerance in sorghum has been linked to the staygreen trait and associated with increased grain yield during postanthesis stress. Seasonal variability in postflowering drought occurrences makes selection for the staygreen trait unpredictable and the efficiency and reliability of screening for the trait using only conventional breeding low. Differences in dhurrin content between high and low dhurrin levels lines is only markedly favored to the high dhurrin level lines in the upper leaves of matured field-grown plants. Here we report a screening method using early seedling growth characteristics of sorghum lines of known dhurrin level grown in sand with no inorganic nutrients supply. The method was evaluated under cold and warm temperatures. Seedling growth characteristics and contents of dhurrin and high-performance liquid chromatographydetected sugars were determined at 5, 10, 17, and 23 d after emergence. High dhurrin level lines had larger increases in shoot fresh weight, dried weight, and length than did lines with low dhurrin levels at 10 d after emergence under both temperatures. Similar trends were observed when separating lines into high and low dhurrin levels using fresh shoot mass and length at 10 d after emergence. Dhurrin content decreased with seedling age, was statistically similar between dhurrin levels, and negatively correlated to concentrations of sugar. Thus, selecting for postflowering drought tolerance can be timely, reliably, and inexpensively done using early seedling growth characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-415
Number of pages12
JournalCrop Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Mr. Tom Mahan for maintaining conditions in the polyhouse and climatic chambers. The authors also acknowledge the support of the US Sorghum Checkoff Program. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Publisher Copyright:
© Crop Science Society of America.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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