This study seeks to evaluate the response of 17 yellow Quality Protein Maize (QPM) inbred line seedlings to drought stress (DS), using different morphophysiological traits (plant height (PH), chlorophyll content (CC), stem diameter (SD), proline content (Pro), photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (PS II), canopy temperature (CT) and substomatal carbon dioxide concentration (Ci
). The experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) and replicated three times in a growth chamber. The seedlings were exposed to DS treatment by growing them at 20% field capacity. The control/well-watered (WW) treatments were kept at 80% field capacity throughout the experiment. Highly significant differences (p
< 0.001) were observed for PH, SD, and Pro across environments. On the other hand, significant differences (p
< 0.05) were observed for CC and PS II, while DS had no significant effects on Ci
and CT. Proline content increased under DS compared to WW conditions. Inbred lines L34, L7, L5, L2, L16, and L6 had approximately equal or more Pro than the drought tolerant check (ZM1523). As such, these lines were regarded as drought tolerant. Taking all measured parameters into consideration, L7 performed notably better than the other inbred lines under DS.
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