Chatara, T., Musvosvi, C., Houdegbe, A. C., Tesfay, S., & Sibiya, J. Morpho-physiological and biochemical characterization of African spider plant (Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq.) genotypes under drought and non-drought conditions. Frontiers in Plant Science, 14, 1197462. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2023.1197462
The African spider plant (Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq.) is a nutrient-dense, climate-resilient indigenous vegetable with a C4 carbon fixation pathway. Understanding African spider plant drought tolerance mechanisms is essential for improving its performance in water-stressed areas. The objective of this study was to evaluate the stress tolerance potential of African spider plant accessions based on thirteen morphological, physiological, and biochemical traits under three different water treatment regimes. Eighteen accessions were evaluated over two growing seasons in the greenhouse using a split-split plot design with four replications and three water treatment-regimes namely optimum (100% field capacity), intermediate drought (50% field capacity) and, severe drought (30% field capacity). The results revealed that water regime had a significant effect (P< 0.01) on the accessions for the traits studied. A significant reduction across most of the studied traits was observed under drought conditions. However, proline content in all the accessions significantly rose under drought conditions. The principal component analysis revealed a considerable difference in the performance of the 18 African spider plant accessions under optimum and drought stress conditions. Several morphological and physiological parameters, including days to 50% flowering (r = 0.80), leaf length (r = 0.72), net photosynthesis (r = 0.76) and number of leaves per plant (r = 0.79), were positively associated with leaf yield under drought conditions. Cluster analysis categorized the 18 accessions and 13 measured parameters into 4 clusters, with cluster-1 exhibiting greater drought tolerance for most of the studied traits, and cluster-4 having the most drought-sensitive accessions. Among the accessions tested, accessions L3 and L5 demonstrated excellent drought tolerance and yield performance under both conditions. As a result, these accessions were selected as candidates for African spider plant drought tolerance breeding programs. These findings will serve as the foundation for future studies and will aid in improving food and nutrition security in the face of drought.