Cassava is an important crop in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Cassava can be produced adequately in drought conditions making it the ideal food security crop in marginal environments. Although cassava can tolerate drought stress, it can be genetically improved to enhance productivity in such environments. Drought adaptation studies in over three decades in cassava have identified relevant mechanisms which have been explored in conventional breeding. Drought is a quantitative trait and its multigenic nature makes it very challenging to effectively manipulate and combine genes in breeding for rapid genetic gain and selection process. Cassava has a long growth cycle of 12–18 months which invariably contributes to a long breeding scheme for the crop. Modern breeding using advances in genomics and improved genotyping, is facilitating the dissection and genetic analysis of complex traits including drought tolerance, thus helping to better elucidate and understand the genetic basis of such traits. A beneficial goal of new innovative breeding strategies is to shorten the breeding cycle using minimized, efficient or fast phenotyping protocols. While high throughput genotyping have been achieved, this is rarely the case for phenotyping for drought adaptation. Some of the storage root phenotyping in cassava are often done very late in the evaluation cycle making selection process very slow. This paper highlights some modified traits suitable for early-growth phase phenotyping that may be used to reduce drought phenotyping cycle in cassava. Such modified traits can significantly complement the high throughput genotyping procedures to fast track breeding of improved drought tolerant varieties. The need for metabolite profiling, improved phenomics to take advantage of next generation sequencing technologies and high throughput phenotyping are basic steps for future direction to improve genetic gain and maximize speed for drought tolerance breeding.
Okogbenin, E.; Setter, T.L.; Ferguson, M.; Mutegi, R.; Ceballos, H.; Olasanmi, B.; Fregene, M. Phenotypic approaches to drought in cassava: review. Frontiers in Physiology (2013) 4: [DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00093]