Drought and heat stress impacts on phenolic acids accumulation in durum wheat cultivars
Droughts and high temperatures are the main abiotic constraints hampering durum wheat production. This study investigated the accumulation of phenolic acids (PAs) in the wholemeal flour of six durum wheat cultivars under drought and heat stress. Phenolic acids were extracted from wholemeals and analysed through HPLC-DAD analysis. Ferulic acid was the most represented PA, varying from 390.1 to 785.6 µg/g dry matter across all cultivars and growth conditions, followed by sinapic acids, p-coumaric, vanillic, syringic, and p-hydroxybenzoic acids. Among the cultivars, Cirno had the highest PAs content, especially under severe drought conditions. Heat stress enhanced the accumulation of minor individual PAs, whereas severe drought increased ferulic acid and total PAs. Broad-sense heritability was low (0.23) for p-coumaric acid but ≥0.69 for all other components. Posi-tive correlations occurred between PA content and grain morphology and between test weight and grain yield. Durum wheat genotypes with good yields and high accumulation of PAs across different growing conditions could be significant for durum wheat resilience and health-promoting value.