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Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important cereal adversely affected by drought stress. Screening the germplasm of maize crop is prerequisite to categorize the genotypes based on drought tolerance and sensitivity. With the objective to sort out the contrasting genotypes, eight maize varieties (V1=FH-988, V2=20R52, V3=FH-1046, V4=Rustam-1, V5=FH-949, V6=Pioneer30Y87, V7=FH-1137, and V8=Rustam-12) were grown under well-watered (WW= 0 MPa) and water stressed (DD = -0.60MPa) conditions. Drought was estimated by applying PEG-8000. Plants were harvested four weeks after transplanting and the evaluation was done on the basis of various morphological (root length, shoot length, root fresh weight, shoot fresh weight, root dry weight, shoot dry weight, root shoot ratio, number of leaves) and biochemical parameters (potassium and chlorophyll contents in leaves). Relative leaf water contents and membrane stability index were also measured. The data collected was analyzed statistically at 1% probability level and Least Significant Difference Test (LSD) was applied to separate the significant treatment means. The results showed that the water stress adversely affected on the morphological parameters. The maize hybrid FH-988 had significantly higher (p<0.01) morphological and biochemical parameters and found more drought tolerant. While maize hybrid FH-1137 had lower these parameters as compared to all other maize hybrids and was considered as drought sensitive genotype. Study findings showed that the screening of drought tolerant genotypes could be a better source to mitigate the drought stress impacts on maize in drought prone regions.
Keywords: Drought tolerant; Hydroponic; Maize; Water stress