Vegetables are a distinct collection of plant-based foods that vary in nutritional diversity and form an important part of the healthy diet of the human being. Besides providing basic nutrition, they have great potential for boosting human health. The balanced consumption of vegetables is highly recommended for supplementing the human body with better nutrition density, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and bioactive compounds. However, the production and quality of fresh vegetables are influenced directly or indirectly by exposure to high temperatures or heat stress (HS). A decline in quality traits and harvestable yield are the most common effects of HS among vegetable crops. Heat-induced morphological damage, such as poor vegetative growth, leaf tip burning, and rib discoloration in leafy vegetables and sunburn, decreased fruit size, fruit/pod abortion, and unfilled fruit/pods in beans, are common, often rendering vegetable cultivation unprofitable. Further studies to trace down the possible physiological and biochemical effects associated with crop failure reveal that the key factors include membrane damage, photosynthetic inhibition, oxidative stress, and damage to reproductive tissues, which may be the key factors governing heat-induced crop failure. The reproductive stage of plants has extensively been studied for HS-induced abnormalities. Plant reproduction is more sensitive to HS than the vegetative stages, and affects various reproductive processes like pollen germination, pollen load, pollen tube growth, stigma receptivity, ovule fertility and, seed filling, resulting in poorer yields. Hence, sound and robust adaptation and mitigation strategies are needed to overcome the adverse impacts of HS at the morphological, physiological, and biochemical levels to ensure the productivity and quality of vegetable crops. Physiological traits such as the stay-green trait, canopy temperature depression, cell membrane thermostability, chlorophyll fluorescence, relative water content, increased reproductive fertility, fruit numbers, and fruit size are important for developing better yielding heat-tolerant varieties/cultivars. Moreover, various molecular approaches such as omics, molecular breeding, and transgenics, have been proved to be useful in enhancing/incorporating tolerance and can be potential tools for developing heat-tolerant varieties/cultivars. Further, these approaches will provide insights into the physiological and molecular mechanisms that govern thermotolerance and pave the way for engineering “designer” vegetable crops for better health and nutritional security. Besides these approaches, agronomic methods are also important for adaptation, escape and mitigation of HS protect and improve yields.
The rising temperatures are seriously impacting the food crops, including urdbean; hence efforts are needed to identify the sources of heat tolerance in such crops to ensure global food security. In the present study, urdbean genotypes were evaluated for heat tolerance under natural outdoor for two consecutive years (2018, 2019) and subsequently in the controlled environment of the growth chamber to identify high temperature tolerant lines. The genotypes were assessed involving few physiological traits (membrane damage, chlorophyll, photosynthetic efficiency, stomatal conductance, lipid peroxidation), reproductive traits (pollen germination % and pollen viability %) and yield related traits (total number of pods plant-1, total seeds plant-1, single seed weight and seed yield plant-1). Based upon these tested traits, PantU31, Mash114, UTTARA and IPU18-04 genotypes were identified as promising genotypes for both years under heat stress condition. Further confirming heat tolerance, all these four tolerant and four sensitive genotypes were tested under controlled environment under growth chamber condition. All these four genotypes PantU31, Mash114, UTTARA and IPU18-04 showed high chlorophyll content, photosynthetic efficiency, stomatal conductance, leaf area, pods plant-1, total seeds plant-1 and low reduction in pollen germination % and pollen viability under stress heat stress condition. Moreover, yield and yield related traits viz., pods plant-1, seeds plant-1, single seed weight and seed yield plant-1 showed very strong positive correlation with pollen germination and pollen viability except electrolyte leakage and malondialdehyde content. Thus, these genotypes could be potentially used as donors for transferring heat tolerance trait to the elite yet heat-sensitive urdbean cultivars.
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