, 214:57 | Cite as

Genotypic variability among cotton cultivars for heat and drought tolerance using reproductive and physiological traits

  • Kulvir Singh
  • Chathurika Wijewardana
  • Bandara Gajanayake
  • Suresh Lokhande
  • Ted Wallace
  • Don Jones
  • Kambham Raja Reddy


Development of rapid and inexpensive screening tools for heat and drought stress tolerance is needed and will be helpful in cotton breeding programs and selecting cultivars for a niche environment. In this study, several pollen-based traits at optimum and high temperatures and physiological parameters measured during the boll-filling period were used to evaluate variability among the cultivars for heat and drought stresses. Principal component analysis and drought stress response index methods were used to categorize cotton cultivars into three heat and drought tolerant clusters. Based on the combined analysis, PX532211WRF has been identified as heat- and drought-tolerant, and would be expected to perform better under both heat- and drought-stressed environments. A poor correlation between reproductive and physiological indices indicates that screening breeders have to use different traits to screen cultivars for reproductive and vegetative tolerance. Identified traits could serve as valuable screening tools in cotton breeding programs aimed at developing genotypes to a changing climate. Moreover, cultivar-dependent relative scores will aid in the identification of cultivars best suited to niche environments to alleviate the influences of abiotic stresses at both vegetative and reproductive stages.


Heat stress Drought Screening tool Cumulative stress response index Pollen viability Pollen tube length 



Leaf net photosynthesis


Chlorophyll fluorescence


Stomatal conductance


Electron transport rate


Water use efficiency




Chlorophyll stability index


Total chlorophyll




Cell membrane thermostability


Specific leaf area


Canopy temperature depression


Pollen viability


Pollen germination


Pollen germination temperature response index


Individual response index


Cumulative response index


Heat stress response index


Drought stress response index


Heat stress response index-reproductive


Heat stress response index-physiological


Cumulative heat and drought response index



This work was partially supported by the USDA NIFA projects (2015-34263-24070, G-14901-1), Mississippi Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine as part of undergraduate Research program, and Cotton Incorporated, Inc., Cary, NC. We also thank David Brand for technical help during the experiment. This study was a contribution of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant and Soil SciencesMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Agricultural and Environmental ResearchCotton IncorporatedCaryUSA

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