Abiotic Stress

Much of the Snider Cotton Physiology Lab’s research has been devoted to deepening understanding of the physiological response of the cotton crop to yield-limiting abiotic stresses, with a particular emphasis on water and temperature stresses.

Regarding drought stress, the Snider Cotton Physiology Lab has utilized a number of diverse methodologies to demonstrate that:

  1. leaf area development was substantially more sensitive to drought stress than carbon assimilation;
  2. photosynthetic declines under growth or yield-limiting drought do not appear to be associated with non-stomatal impairment, as suggested in some plant species;
  3. drought primarily drives yield loss through reductions in boll number because declines in seed set are offset by intra-boll increases in the production of fiber per seed, and
  4. declines in fruit retention under drought are highly dependent on fruiting site position.

Regarding temperature stresses, the Snider Cotton Physiology Lab has:

  1. documented heat-induced limitations to reproductive success in cotton,
  2. identified cultivar differences in photosynthetic heat tolerance,
  3. documented developmental stage and environment-specific effects on photosynthetic thermotolerance,
  4. documented how early season growth temperature extremes induce photosynthetic acclimation in cotton seedlings, and identified significant interactions between genotype and growth temperature for seedling growth parameters in advanced breeding lines.
Chlorophyll fluorescence and leaf gas exchange (photosynthesis) measurements on drought-stressed cotton leaves during a particularly dry year (2014) [Image Credit: Calvin Perry].
Well-watered (near) versus drought stressed (far) cotton. Note the reductions in canopy size under drought that significantly reduce light interception [Image Credit: Daryl Chastain].