Application of natural plant extracts improves the tolerance against combined terminal heat and drought stresses in bread wheat

M. Farooq*, M. Rizwan, A. Nawaz, A. Rehman, R. Ahmad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Drought and heat are among the main abiotic stresses causing severe damage to the cereal productivity when occur at reproductive stages. In this study, ten wheat cultivars were screened for combined heat and drought tolerance imposed at booting, heading, anthesis and post-anthesis stages, and role of the foliage applied plant extracts was evaluated in improving the performance of differentially responding wheat cultivars under terminal heat and drought stresses. During both years, wheat crop was raised under ambient temperature and 70% water holding capacity (WHC) till leaf boot stage. The plant extracts (3% each) of sorghum, brassica, sunflower and moringa were foliage applied at booting, anthesis and post-anthesis stage; and after one week of application of these plant extracts, combined heat and drought was imposed at each respective stage. Heat and drought stresses were imposed at each respective stage by placing pots in glass canopies with temperature of 4 ± 2°C above than the ambient temperature in combination with drought stress (35% WHC) until maturity. Combination of drought and heat stresses significantly reduced the performance of tested wheat cultivars; however, stress at the booting and heading stages was more damaging than the anthesis and post-anthesis stages. Cultivars Mairaj-2008 and Chakwal-50 remained green with extended duration for grain filling, resulting in the maintenance of number of grains per spike and 100-grain weight under stress conditions and thus had better grain yield and water-use efficiency. However, in cultivars Fsd-2008, and Shafaq-2006, the combined imposition of drought and heat accelerated the grain filling rate with decrease in grain filling duration, grain weight and grain yield. Foliar application of all the plant extracts improved the wheat performance under terminal heat and drought stress; however, brassica extract was the most effective. This improvement in grain yield, water-use efficiency and transpiration efficiency due to foliage applied plant extracts, under terminal heat and drought stress, was owing to better stay-green character and accumulation of more soluble phenolics, which imparted stress tolerance as indicated by relatively stable grain weight and grain number. In crux, growing of stay-green wheat cultivars with better grain filling and foliage application of plant extracts may help improving the performance of bread wheat under combined heat and drought stresses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-538
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agronomy and Crop Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • allelopathy
  • climate change
  • grain weight
  • secondary metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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