Targeting sources of drought tolerance within an Avena spp. collection through multivariate approaches
BACKGROUND Drought stress significantly limits oat (Avena sativa L.) growth and productivity. Thus an efficient management of soil moisture and study of metabolic changes in response to drought are important for improved production of oat. The objective was to gain a better understanding of drought tolerance mechanisms and improve soil water management strategies using water-saving superabsorbent polymer (SAP) at 60 kg ha(-1) under three irrigation levels (adequate, moderate and deficit) using a new type of hydraulic pressure-controlled auto irrigator. RESULTS The results showed that the relative water content and leaf water potential (ψ(1) ) were much higher in oats treated with SAP. Although the SAP had little effect on plant biomass accumulation under adequate and moderate irrigation, it significantly increased the biomass by 52.7% under deficit irrigation. Plants treated with SAP under deficit irrigation showed a significant decrease in superoxide dismutase, catalase, peroxidase, ascorbate peroxidase and glutathione reductase activities in leaves compared with control plants. CONCLUSION Our results suggested that drought stress leads to production of oxygen radicals, which results in increased lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the plant, and the application of SAP could conserve soil water, making same available to plants for increased biomass accumulation and reduced oxidative stress especially under severe water stress.