Improving salt tolerance of genotypes requires a source of genetic variation and multiple accurate selection criteria for discriminating their salt tolerance. A combination of morpho-physiological and biochemical parameters and multivariate analysis was used to detect salt tolerance variation in 15 wheat lines developed by doubled haploid (DHL) technique. They were then compared with the salt-tolerant check cultivar Sakha 93. Salinity stress was investigated at three salinity levels (0, 100, and 200 mM NaCl) for 25 days. Considerable genetic variation was observed for all traits, as was high heritability (>60%) and genetic gain (>20%). Principal component analysis indicated the ability of nine traits (root number, root length, root dry weight, shoot length, shoot dry weight, specific root length, relative water content, membrane stability index, and catalase) to identify differences in salinity tolerance among lines. Three traits (shoot length, shoot dry weight, and catalase) were indicative of salt-tolerance, indicating their importance in improving and evaluating salt tolerant genotypes for breeding programs. The salinity tolerance membership index based on these three traits classified one new line (DHL21) and the check cultivar (Sakha 93) as highly salt-tolerant, DHL25, DHL26, DHL2, DHL11, and DHL5 as tolerant, and DHL23 and DHL12 as intermediate. Discriminant function analysis and MANOVA suggested differences among the five groups of tolerance. Among the donor genotypes, Sakha 93 remained the donor of choice for improving salinity tolerance during the seedling stage. The tolerated lines (DHL21, DHL25, DHL26, DHL2, DHL11, and DHL5) could be also recommended as useful and novel genetic resources for improving salinity tolerance of wheat in breeding programs.
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