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Last update: May 2021

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MicMac Design Project

MicMac-Design Project

WP3.2 : Drought tolerance and avoidance in sunflower

Greenhouse experimentations
© INRA Toulouse
Greenhouse experimentations on sunflower

This study case, based on low input sunflower and more specifically on drought tolerance, led by the INRA unit AGIR.

The research of sunflower ideotypes tolerant to drought stress is based on the identification of physiological traits involved in the response of the plant to water stress, on the analysis of the intra-specific genotypic variability of the identified traits (genotypic and non-genotypic characterization of the trait), and on the evaluation of the traits in the phenotypic expression of drought tolerance in different environments and crop management.

Different combinations of traits will be analysed with the crop model “SUNFLO” in order to propose sunflower ideotypes tolerant to drought stress.

Finally, we plan to improve our existing phenotyping procedure in greenhouse which provides some of the genetic parameters of SUNFLO and try to design a screening procedure for on-field conditions. The analysed physiological traits concern drought adaptative processes. These processes would be studied at different levels (cover, plant, and organ): for example, the regulation of transpiration fluxes by the leaf area reduction or by the stomatal control, and the cellular tolerance to dehydration (osmotic adjustment).

Another option to improve sunflower yield is the escape strategy based on very early sowing to avoid summer drought as much as possible. We will first characterize the effects of early sowing on phenology, biomass production and yield using preliminary studies conducted since 2006. We will also continue the evaluation of the morpho-physiological traits by characterizing early vigour of sunflower genotypes subjected to low temperature.