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Persistent Indifference of Emmer Wheats Grain Yield and Physiological Functions to Nitrogen Supply: Evidence from Two Irrigation Regimes and Dryland Conditions


Scientific data on emmer wheat’s response to N and water supplies is scarce. Two field experiments were conducted on a group of five emmer wheat landraces (Joneghan, Zarneh, Singerd, Shahrekord, Khoygan), a durum, and a bread wheat genotype. In the first experiment, the genotypes were subjected to 30 (N-limited) and 100 kg N ha–1 (N-supplied) at non-stress and drought stress conditions. In the second experiment, responses of these genotypes to the mentioned N supplies were studied under dryland and dryland + terminal complementary irrigation conditions. Water deprivation (being either due to the imposed drought stress or the dryland condition) led to decreases in chlorophyll concentration, maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II, relative water content, grains/spike, spikes/plant, 1000-grains weight, grain yield, plant above-ground dry mass, and N use efficiency of the examined wheat genotypes. However, emmer wheat genotypes tended to vary less in response to water supply at least in terms of a majority of the traits, including grain yield (28–30% vs 40–58% drought-induced decreases for emmer and improved wheats, respectively) and above-ground dry mass (12–17% vs 23–40% drought-induced decreases for emmer and improved wheats, respectively). Increase in N supply led to decreases in grains/spike, spikes/plant, 1000-grains weight, and grain yield of the emmer wheats, despite increases in these grain yield attributes and grain yield of the durum and bread wheats. Results were indicative of greater protein content (15.7 vs 12.4% for non-stressed emmer and improved wheats, respectively) but a smaller grain yield (2985 vs 7275 kg ha−1 for non-stressed emmer and improved wheats, respectively), harvest index, and N use efficiency in the emmer wheats, compared to the durum and bread wheats, across different N and water supplies. Our findings were novel in that the emmer wheat was found more sustained across different water availabilities and no responsive to N levels that are beneficial to the durum and bread wheats.

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Fig. 1



Analysis of variances





dryland + CI:

Dryland + complementary irrigation


Harvest index


Least significant difference

Fv/Fm :

Maximal quantum efficiency of PSII




Near infrared spectroscopy


N use efficiency


Randomized complete block design


Plant above-ground dry mass


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The authors are grateful to Dr Gh. Saeidi for his valuable editing comments on the manuscript.

Author information




PE designed the experiments, supervised the research work, and prepared the manuscript. MV conducted the Experiment 1 and collected and analyzed the data. VR conducted the Experiment 2 and collected and analyzed the data.

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Correspondence to Parviz Ehsanzadeh.

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Ehsanzadeh, P., Vaghar, M. & Roushanzamir, V. Persistent Indifference of Emmer Wheats Grain Yield and Physiological Functions to Nitrogen Supply: Evidence from Two Irrigation Regimes and Dryland Conditions. Int. J. Plant Prod. 15, 391–405 (2021).

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  • Tetraploid wheat
  • Drought
  • Hulled wheats
  • Landraces
  • Fertilizer
  • Dryland