Environmental conditions during root development: Drought constraint on cassava starch quality
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Cassava has the reputation of being a drought tolerant crop, however, when deprived of water, plant and root development are affected. This ultimately will translate to an altered starch synthesis expressed by variation of starch quality. The magnitude of which, is influenced by the severity of stress conditions and stage of plant maturity. During early plant development,water stress retards growth, which will only be resumed after the immature plant has received sufficient water. Despite of an increased starch yield, the effect of initial water stress on starch quality is still sustained. In mature plants, starch quality is affected by environmental conditions prior to root harvest, especially the onset of rain after a stress period as indicated by a reduced starch paste. This paper presents the argument for extending the scope of traditional breeding programs beyond selecting for plant growth under drought conditions, to strategies that place greater emphasis on stabilizing starch quality.
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