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  • 1 Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi 110012, India
  • | 2 Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana 141004, Punjab, India
  • | 3 Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi 110012, India
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Physiological breeding complementing the conventional approach is increasingly being explored in wheat in view of stagnating annual genetic yield gain. Designing improved plant types required knowledge about physiological traits associated with yield gain in the past. Fourteen wheat varieties including 12 historically important and popular (mega) wheat cultivars and two recently registered varieties were observed for various physiological traits for two years. Both breeding period and genotypes within breeding period accounted for significant differences for most of the physiological traits. Regression analysis indicated curvilinear trend for leaf area index (LAI), flag leaf area, and root length and root weight. Near perfect leaf area index (LAI 5.94) with semi-erect leaves and higher flag leaf area was observed in all time mega variety HD 2967 indicated the importance of plant architecture and crop canopy in yield maximization. Linear declining trend was observed for coleoptile length, number of stomata per cm2 and flag leaf length. Increasing trend for total chlorophyll content and normalized difference for vegetative indices (NDVI) at both vegetative and flowering stage indicated the importance of leaf greenness in yield improvement. Root length has continuously declined except for the latest released varieties, however no such trend was observed for root weight. We propose that grain yield stabilization at still higher level can be achieved by increasing photosynthetic capacity, optimizing the crop canopy slightly less than the optimum, and better partitioning to grain yield through directed physiological based breeding.

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Editor(s)-in-Chief: Pauk, János

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ISSN 0133-3720 (Print)
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