Drought Avoidance and Phenotypic Flexibility of Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) Under Water Scarcity Conditions


  • Carla S. S. Gouveia ISOPlexis Genebank, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9020-105, Funchal, Madeira (PT) https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9309-4613
  • José F. T. GANANÇA ISOPlexis Genebank, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9020-105, Funchal, Madeira (PT) https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8384-6188
  • Humberto G. M. de NÓBREGA ISOPlexis Genebank, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9020-105, Funchal, Madeira (PT) https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8900-9340
  • José G. R. de FREITAS ISOPlexis Genebank, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9020-105, Funchal, Madeira (PT)
  • Vincent LEBOT CIRAD-BIOS, PO Box 946, Port Vila, Vanuatu (VU)
  • Miguel Â. A. Pinheiro de CARVALHO ISOPlexis Genebank, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9020-105, Funchal, Madeira (PT) https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5084-870X




biomass; chlorophyll content index; drought; nitrogen; nutrient efficiency; root:shoot ratio; stress index


Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is an important staple food in several regions of the world. Water scarcity is the most devastating abiotic stress, with a great impact on crop productivity, food security, and subsistence. Drought restricts the nutrient intake and transport into the plant. Tolerant crops have morphological mechanisms of drought avoidance and/or phenotypic flexibility, showing also good water and nutrient efficiency. However, that information is scarce for sweet potato, which is usually based on physiological traits of plant productivity. Here, we show the physiological responses of eight sweet potato accessions subjected to a 3 months’ drought period, by recording their differences for nutrient and leaf chlorophyll content, biomass and stress level. Our results showed that the differences in water use efficiency (WUE, +68.1%), chlorophyll content index (CCI, -5.3%), total plant biomass (TPB, -55.4%), nutrient efficiency (NER, +38.1%) and nutrient harvest index (NHI, +2.9%) where significantly correlated with the water regime. The water shortage led to a drought avoidance response, with TPB loss in all accessions. Distinct phenotypic flexibility responses were also recorded and explained by the root:shoot ratio (R:S) and stress index (SI) variation of the storage root and shoot growth. This information could be relevant for the development of sweet potato breeding programs, adapting this crop to climate change.


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How to Cite

GOUVEIA, C., GANANÇA, J. F. T., de NÓBREGA, H. G. M., de FREITAS, J. G. R., LEBOT, V., & CARVALHO, M. Â. A. P. de. (2019). Drought Avoidance and Phenotypic Flexibility of Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) Under Water Scarcity Conditions. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 47(4), 1037–1046. https://doi.org/10.15835/nbha47411633



Research Articles
DOI: 10.15835/nbha47411633

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