• Chukwuma Ogbaga

    Student thesis: Phd


    Changing climate in combination with growing world populations mean that there is growing need for plants to be grown on land that is currently considered marginal for agriculture. Sorghum is a C4 plant that serves as an important food crop in Africa and India. It is also known to be highly drought tolerant but the mechanisms responsible for this tolerance are unclear. The overall aim of this study was to understand the drought tolerance mechanisms that enable the plant to maintain leaf function for a long time during water deficit. In Chapter 2 of this thesis, I studied the underlying physiological mechanisms for tolerating drought in two sorghum varieties with differing degrees of drought tolerance compared to a closely related species, Zea mays. During progressive drought, the more tolerant sorghum variety Samsorg 17 maintained net CO2 assimilation and photochemistry longest relative to the less tolerant Samsorg 40 and Zea mays. Differences were also seen in stomatal aperture, stomatal density, total chlorophyll content, chl a:b and A/Ci curve responses with maize more affected than the sorghum varieties. In Chapter 3, I identified novel drought tolerance mechanisms in the sorghum varieties. The less tolerant Samsorg 40 lost PsbA (D1) and Rubisco proteins and reengineered its photosynthetic apparatus to accumulate amino acids and sugars in order to maximise survival under drought. Samsorg 17 maintained photosynthetic proteins notably PsbA (D1) and Rubisco and accumulated high constitutive sugar content allowing for the maintenance of transpiration and photosynthesis.The two sorghum varieties had strikingly contrasting approaches of tolerating drought as demonstrated in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4, the aim was to characterise biochemical and metabolic changes that occur in response to drought. In particular, to identify sugars that are accumulated constitutively in Samsorg 17 and nitrogen sinks for lost N in Samsorg 40. My findings indicated a contrasting response in terms of sugar content in Samsorg 17 but support for amino acids as N sinks in Samsorg 40 as reported earlier. Sugars, sugar alcohols, lipids, organic acids, heat shock proteins and dehydrins were generally higher or more induced in Samsorg 17 relative to Samsorg 40. Samsorg 40 rather made amino acids. The implications of my findings and future work arising from this study were discussed in detail in the final chapter.In conclusion, in this thesis, it was demonstrated that closely related plants can have mechanistically different physiological and biochemical mechanisms for responding to drought.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester


    • Heat shock proteins
    • Dehydrins
    • Rubisco
    • Compatible solutes
    • Photosynthesis
    • Maize
    • Sorghum
    • Drought

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