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Detection of genotypic variation in response to water stress at seedling stage could help in escalating selection intensity in breeding drought tolerant varities. Nine genotypes were tested for seedling survivability under drought stress. Four genotypes, i.e. ‘Sarsabz’, ‘Sitta’, ‘Fareed’ and ‘FD-83’, showed complete survival on resumption of irrigation after drought stress. These genotypes were late dying as they withered slowly under drought. Percent wilting and percent survival on resumption of irrigation were negatively correlated. Six genotypes were selected on the basis of seedling survivability (late and early dying) and evaluated for seedling growth response under drought. Root length and dry weight increased significantly under stress in ‘Sitta’, ‘FD-83’ and ‘Fareed’. Drought stress also increased the root-to-shoot length ratio in ‘FD-83’ and ‘Fareed’. However, seedling fresh and dry weight significantly reduced in ‘Nesser’ and ‘Inqalab-91’ under stress. In ‘FD-83’, seedling fresh and dry weight increased over control under stress. Results indicated that seedling survivability, root-to-shoot length ratio, root length and dry weight were most important traits for screening drought tolerance at seedling stage. On the basis of these indices, ‘Sitta’, ‘Fareed’ and ‘FD-83’ were classified as drought tolerant, ‘Sarsabz’ and ‘Nesser’ as moderately tolerant and ‘Inqalab-91’ as sensitive genotypes. Collectively, results suggested that selection by combining seedling survivability, growth response, RWC and leaf water potential can be efficiently used for rapid evaluation of drought tolerance in wheat breeding.

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Cereal Research Communications
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