Sajitha Biju1, Sigfredo Fuentes1, Dorin Gupta1
1 School of Agriculture and Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences,
The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria-3010, Australia
Drought stress is one of the major constraints leading to significant production losses in lentil. Silicon (Si) application has been shown to be a promising management strategy in improvement of drought tolerance in crops. Consequently, the present study aims to investigate the role of Si in mitigating drought stress in lentil. Measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence, photosynthetic pigments, infrared thermal canopy temperature (IRTc), gas exchange parameters and yield traits explained the possible role of Si in alleviation of drought stress effects in lentil. Experiments were conducted in field conditions with selected drought tolerant and sensitive lentil genotypes, which were subjected to severe drought stress at the onset of the flowering stage. Results showed that Si attenuated drought stress-mediated effects on light absorption of photosystem II (PSII) by increasing the effective quantum yield of PSII photochemistry and concentration of photosynthetic pigments along with maintenance of cooler canopies. Additionally, negative effects induced by drought stress on gas exchange were also mitigated by Si application. Increased growth and grain yield of Si-treated drought stressed plants could be related to the increased photosynthetic activity. Overall, Si supplementation could be used as a potential drought stress mitigation strategy in lentil plants.