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Drought is the major abiotic constraint to the rice production in the rain-fed areas across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Wild species of Oryza offer a wide spectrum of adaptive traits and can serve as potential donors of biotic and abiotic stress tolerance. At the Punjab Agricultural University, we are maintaining an active collection of 1630 accessions of wild species germplasm (AA, CC, BBCC and CCDD) of rice. These accessions were screened to assess genetic variation for drought tolerance under field conditions. Severe water stress was imposed at the late vegetative stage by withholding water initially for 25 d and then extended further to 35 d during kharif season in the years 2013–14 and 2015–16. The tolerance score for drought stress was based on the extent of leaf rolling and leaf drying. Based on the 2 years’ data, seven accessions from Oryza rufipogon, four from Oryza longistaminata and one each from Oryza officinalis and Oryza latifolia were found tolerant to drought stress. These selected accessions were further phenotype for root morphology. The average root length among the selected accessions ranges between 36 and 80 cm and the number of primary roots vary from 30 to 87 cm. The O. rufipogon accession IRGC 106433, O. longistaminata accession IRGC 92656A, O. officinalis accession IRGC 101152 and O. latifolia accession IRGC 80769 showed approximately 2–2.5 times longer root length and number than the indica rice elite cultivar PR121. The results indicated potentiality of selected wild species germplasm for conferring drought tolerance to the elite cultivars.
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