Use of infrared thermography imaging for assessing heat tolerance in high and low iron pearl millet lines

  • R. Pushpavalli, A. Kanatti and M. Govindaraj


In the arid regions of Asia and Africa, pearl millet serves as a staple source of dietary energy and mineral micronutrients for millions of people. These regions are more vulnerable to increased temperature. The availability of rapid and efficient screening tools based on the relevant non-destructive quantifiable traits would facilitate pearl millet improvement for heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to evaluate pearl millet lines with contrast micronutrients for heat tolerance using infrared thermal imaging, a rapid proxy-canopy (panicle and flag leaf) temperature measurement. Results showed the highly significant genotypic differences between high-Fe and low-Fe genotypes for grain Fe and Zn densities and agronomic traits. Both high-Fe and low-Fe group genotypes differed significantly for panicle temperature depression (PTD) during high- vapor deficit (VPD) at stigma stage (3.0 to 6.73°C). PTD values were positive across all genotypes during stigma stage and were very low or negative during the low-VPD. Cooler canopy temperature (high-PTD) was observed during stigma stage rather than seed-set stage at higher-VPD in both high-Fe and low-Fe genotypes. The cooler temperature achieved by panicle might be helpful in maintaining stigma receptivity for longer periods in the female parents, whereas in male parents it might be helpful in maintaining pollen viability for longer periods. Flag leaf temperature (FTD) was cooler than PTD at both high-VPD and low-VPD as well in both stigma (less by 2.1°C) and grain-filling stage (less by 2.7°C), again signifying that the reproductive parts are more prone to heat stress as compared to vegetative parts. Since, thermal imaging discriminates the heat stress and non-stress canopies, this can serve as a proxy canopy temperature tool for heat stress tolerance screening in pearl millet.

Research Article