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Evaluation of genus Cenchrus based on malondialdehyde, proline content, specific leaf area and carbon isotope discrimination for drought tolerance and divergence of species at DNA level

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Cenchrus (family Poaceae) is an important component of major grass covers of the world. Largely it is apomictic and both annual and perennial species exist in nature. Variations in contents of malondialdehyde, proline, specific leaf area and carbon isotope discrimination for drought tolerance were estimated among eight prominent species of Cenchrus. Simultaneously, genetic variations were also estimated by employing 187 RAPD primers. Of these, 23 primers did not react, 2 performed poorly and 7 produced many non-scorable bands and one primer yielded a single monomorphic band. Rest of the 154 primers generated one or more unambiguously scorable fragments. Twelve hundred and four of the 1,296 putative loci were polymorphic (93%) between at least one pair-wise comparisons among eight species. Dice coefficient and neighbor-joining algorithm analyses showed clustering patterns that fit with the known habitat of the species except perennial, C. myosuroides which formed a node between two annuals species. When these species were subjected to water stress tolerance test, a correlation (r = 0.612) between specific leaf area (SLA) and carbon isotope discrimination (CID) and difference in levels of drought tolerance based parameters among eight species were observed. Of the eight species investigated two annuals viz., C. biflorus and C. echinatus showed highest level of genetic similarity which was also evident from the similar levels of SLA, MDA, proline contents and carbon isotope discrimination values observed in these two species.
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  • Crop Improvement Division, Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, 284003 Jhansi, India
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