Association of mid-reproductive stage canopy temperature depression with the molecular markers and grain yields of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) germplasm under terminal drought
Canopy temperature depression (CTD) has been used to estimate crop yield and drought tolerance. However, when to measure CTD for the best breeding selection efficacy has seldom been addressed. The objectives of this study were to evaluate CTD as a drought response measure, identify suitable crop stage for measurement and associated molecular markers. CTD was measured using an infrared camera on 59, 62, 69, 73, 76 and 82 days after sowing (DAS) and the grain yield, shoot biomass and harvest index (%). CTD recorded at 62 DAS was positively associated with the grain yield by 40% and shoot biomass by 27% and such association diminished gradually to minimum after 76 DAS. Moreover, CTD at 62 DAS also showed similar positive association with the grain yield recorded in two previous years (r = 0.45***, 0.42***). Genome-wide and candidate gene based association analysis had revealed the presence of nine SSR, 11 DArT and three gene-based markers that varied across the six stages of observation. Two SSR markers were associated with CTD through crop phenology or grain yield while the rest were associated only with CTD for computing marker-trait associations (MTAs). The phenotypic variation explained by the markers was the highest at 62 DAS. These results confirm the importance of continued transpiration and the ability of the roots to supply stored soil water under terminal drought. The selection for grain yield through CTD is done best 15 days after the mean flowering time.