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Kirkhouse Trust - Benchmarking Traits Controlling the Plant Water Budget in “Orphan” Legumes

Kirkhouse Trust - Benchmarking Traits Controlling the Plant Water Budget in “Orphan” Legumes

The difficulty of comparing crops species for their “drought tolerance” is that “tolerance” is often confused with simple differences in plant water needs. For instance, peanut develops a larger leaf area, has longer duration and higher yield potential than cowpea, but needs more water to fulfill its growth cycle. Both peanut and cowpea are considered drought tolerant, but each species fits into specific environments where the rainfall and length of the growing season matches their water and duration requirement. Therefore, an essential first step in the comparison of crop species for drought adaptation is to undertake a rigorous benchmarking of plant water need from sowing to maturity.
The main objective of this project is then to evaluate the plant water needs of several orphan legumes species across seasons, and compare them to commonly grown legumes species. We will evaluate their overall water needs and the traits that condition plant water use, giving two sub-objectives: (i) analysing the plant water budget of these different species (using lysimeters), under both a fully irrigated and terminal water stress; (ii) measuring now known traits contributing to water saving in these legume species.

Target species

Rice bean (Vignaumbellata)

Mothbean (Vignaaconitofolia)

Cow pea (Vignaunguiculata)

Horsegram (Macrotylomauniflorum)

Dolichos (Lablabpurpureus)

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