Skip to main content

Effect of drought stress implemented at pre- or post-anthesis stage on some physiological parameters as screening criteria in chickpea cultivars


Drought is one of the most important factors limiting chickpea production in arid and semi-arid regions. There is little information regarding genotypic variation for drought tolerance in chickpea cultivars. Screening for drought tolerance is very important. It is essential to identify the physiological mechanisms of drought tolerance to complete conventional breeding program. Glasshouse experiment was carried out to study the genotypic variation among 11 chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) cultivars. Plants were grown either under optimum conditions or drought stress was implemented at pre-or post-anthesis stages. The drought susceptibility index (DSI) was used as the measure of drought tolerance. Relationships between DSI and excised-leaf water loss (RWL), relative water content (RWC), membrane permeability, ascorbic acid, proline, and chlorophyll contents, lipid peroxidation, and hydrogen peroxide concentrations were determined in order to find out whether these physiological parameters could be used as the genotypic selection criteria for drought tolerance. The results of this study indicated that there was a wide variation in tolerance to drought stress among the chickpea cultivars, which could be exploited in breeding new chickpea cultivars with high drought tolerance. The results also demonstrated that drought-tolerant cultivars had a higher RWC, ascorbic acid and proline concentrations, but lower RWL and membrane permeability in comparison to drought-sensitive cultivars. The significant and a well defined relationships between DSI and RWC, RWL, ascorbic acid, proline, and membrane permeability were found. It was concluded that these parameters could be instrumental in predicting the drought tolerance of chickpea cultivars.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.



drought susceptibility index


early drought stress


late drought stress




relative chlorophyll content


relative water content


excised leaf water loss


  1. Singh, K.B., Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), Field Crops Res., 1997, vol. 53, pp. 161–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Kramer, P.J., Drought Stress and Origin of Adaptation, Adaptation of Plant to Water and High Temperatures Stress, Tuner, N.C. and Kramer, P.J., Eds., New York: Wiley, 1980, pp. 6–20.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Mukherjee, S.P. and Choudhuri, M.A., Implications of Water Stress-Induced Changes in the Leaves of Indigenous Ascorbic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide in Vigna Seedlings, Physiol. Plant., 1983, vol. 58, pp. 166–170.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Dencic, S., Kastori, R., Kobiljski, B., and Duggan, B., Evaluation of Grain Yield and Its Components in Wheat Cultivates and Landraces under Near Optimal and Drought Conditions, Euphytica, 2000, vol. 113, pp. 43–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Altinkut, A., Kazan, K., Ipekci, Z., and Gozukirmizi, N., Tolerance to Paraquat Is Correlated with the Traits Associated with Water Stress Tolerance in Segregating F2 Populations of Barley and Wheat, Euphytica, 2001, vol. 121, pp. 81–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Araghi, G.S. and Assad, M.T., Evaluation of Four Screening Techniques for Drought Resistance and Their Relationship to Yield Reduction Ratio in Wheat, Euphytica, 1998, vol. 103, pp. 293–299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dhanda, S.S. and Sethi, G.S., Inheritance of Excised-Leaf Water Loss and Relative Water Content in Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum), Euphytica, 1998, vol. 104, pp. 39–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Keles, Y. and Oncel, I., Growth and Solute Composition in Two Wheat Species Experiencing Combined Influence of Stress Conditions Russ. J. Plant Physiol., 2004, vol. 51, pp. 228–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Clarke, J.M., Romagosa, I., Jana, S., Srivastava, J.P., and McCaig, T.N., Relationship of Excised-Leaf Water Loss Rate and Yield of Durum Wheat in Diverse Environment, Can. J. Plant Sci., 1989, vol. 69, pp. 1057–1081.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bates, L.S., Waldren, R.P., and Teare, I.D., Rapid Determination of Free Proline for Water-Stress Studies, Plant Soil, 1973, vol. 39, pp. 205–207.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cekic, C. and Paulsen, G.M., Evaluation of a Ninhydrin Procedure for Measuring Membrane Thermostability of Wheat, Crop Sci., 2001, vol. 41, pp. 1351–1355.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hodges, D.M., DeLong, J.M., Forney, C.F., and Prange, R.K., Improving the Thiobarbituric Acid-Reactive-Substances Assay for Estimating Lipid Peroxidation in Plant Tissues Containing Anthocyanin and Other Interfering Compounds, Planta, 1999, vol. 207, pp. 604–611.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Terenashi, Y., Tanaka, A., Osumi, M., and Fukui, S., Catalase Activity of Hydrocarbon Utilizing Candida Yeast, Agr. Biol. Chem., 1974, vol. 38, pp. 1213–1216.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Bruckner, P.L. and Frohberg, R.C., Stress Tolerance and Adaptation in Spring Wheat, Crop Sci., 1987, vol. 27, pp. 31–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Allen, R.D., Dissection of Oxidative Stress Tolerance Using Transgenic Plants, Plant Physiol., 1995, vol. 107, pp. 1049–1054.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Sairam, R.K. and Saxena, D.C., Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Wheat Cultivars: Possible Mechanism of Water Stress Tolerance, J. Agron. Crop Sci., 2000, vol. 184, pp. 55–61.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Sairam, R.K., Deshmukh, P.S., and Saxena, D.C., Role of Antioxidant Systems in Wheat Cultivars Tolerance to Water Stress, Biol. Plant., 1998, vol. 41, pp. 387–394.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Steward, C.R. and Hanson, A.D., Proline Accumulation as a Metabolic Response to Water Stress, Adaptation of Plant to Water and High Temperatures Stress, Tuner, N.C. and Kramer, P.J., Eds., New York: Wiley, 1980, pp. 173–189.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Tan, B.H. and Halloran, G.M., Variation and Correlations of Proline Accumulation in Spring Wheat Cultivars, Crop Sci., 1980, vol. 22, pp. 459–463.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Khan, A.J., Hassan, S., Tariq, M., and Khan, T., Haploidy Breeding and Mutagenesis for Drought Tolerance in Wheat, Euphytica, 2001, vol. 120, pp. 409–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Franca, M.G.C., Thi, A.T.P., Pimental, C., Rossiello, R.O.P., Fodil, Y.Z., and Laffray, D., Differences in Growth and Water Relations among Phaseolus vulgaris Cultivars in Response to Induced Drought Stress, Environ. Exp. Bot., 2000, vol. 43, pp. 227–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Leport, L., Turner, N.C., French, R.J., Barr, M.D., Duda, R., Davies, S.L., Tennant, D., and Siddique, K.H.M., Physiological Responses of Chickpea Cultivars to Terminal Drought in a Mediterranean-Type Environment, Eur. J. Agron., 1999, vol. 11, pp. 279–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Baisak, R., Rana, D., Acharya, B.B., and Kar, M., Alteration in the Activities of Active Oxygen Scavenging Enzymes of Wheat Leaves Subjected to Water Stress, Plant Cell Physiol., 1994, vol. 35, pp. 489–495.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Menconi, M., Sgherri, C.L.M., Pinzino, C., and Navari-Izzo, F., Activated Oxygen Production and Detoxification in Wheat Plants Subjected to a Water Deficit Programme, J. Exp. Bot., 1995, vol. 46, pp. 1123–1130.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kraus, T.E., McKersie, B.D., and Fletcher, R.A., Paclobutrazol Induced Tolerance of Wheat Leaves to Paraquat May Involve Increased Antioxidant Enzyme Activity, J. Plant Physiol., 1995, vol. 145, pp. 570–576.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Pastori, G.M. and Trippi, V.S., Oxidative Stress Induces High Rate of Glutathione Reductase Synthesis in a Drought Resistant Maize Strain, Plant Cell Physiol., 1992, vol. 33, pp. 957–961.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Moran, J.F., Becana, M., Iturbe-Ormaetxe, I., Frechilla, S., Klucas, R.V., and Apracio-Tejo, P., Drought Induces Oxidative Stress in Pea Plants, Planta, 1994, vol. 194, pp. 346–352.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Campos, P.S., Ramalho, J.C., Lauriano, J.A., Silva, M.J., and do Ceu Matos, M., Effects of Drought on Photosynthetic Performance and Water Relations of Four Vigna Cultivars, Photosynthetica, 1999, vol. 36, pp. 79–87.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Egert, M. and Tevini, M., Influence of Drought on Some Physiological Parameters Symptomatic for Oxidative Stress in Leaves of Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Environ. Exp. Bot., 2002, vol. 48, pp. 43–49.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Anbessa, Y. and Bejiga, G., Evaluation of Ethiopian Chickpea Landraces for Tolerance to Drought, Gen. Res. Crop Environ., 2002, vol. 49, pp. 557–564.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Gunes.

Additional information

This text was submitted by the authors in English.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gunes, A., Inal, A., Adak, M.S. et al. Effect of drought stress implemented at pre- or post-anthesis stage on some physiological parameters as screening criteria in chickpea cultivars. Russ J Plant Physiol 55, 59–67 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Cicer arietinum genotypes
  • ascorbic acid
  • chlorophyll
  • drought tolerance
  • excised-leaf water loss
  • H2O2
  • lipid peroxidation
  • membrane permeability
  • proline
  • relative water content