Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) genetic resources for abiotic stress tolerance: A review

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  • P MURUGESAN ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562
  • G M ASWATHY ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562
  • K SUNIL KUMAR ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562
  • P MASILAMANI ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562
  • VINOD KUMAR ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562
  • V RAVI ICAR-Indian Institute of Oil Palm Research, Research Centre, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695 562



Adverse climate, Drought, Genetic resources, Growth, Oil palm, Yield


Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) once grown widely in forests and adjoining areas was subsequently domesticated as a plantation crops. Global oil palm area has quintupled from 1990 and it is grown in an area of 17 million ha with a palm oil production of 59.42 million tonnes. Oil yield is dependent not only on genotypes but also on environmental factors. The growth of common oil palm varieties is suppressed at temperatures below 15°C. Oil palm is a drought tolerant crop as it is surviving in locations with a dry season of several months. Nevertheless water deficit stress reduces the palm fresh fruit bunch yield to less than 5 tonnes/ ha along with significant reduction (up to 26.30%) in vegetative growth. Excess soil moisture and continuous water logging are detrimental to oil palm fresh fruit bunch production. The important parameters, viz. the root biomass, potential root extraction ratio (PRER), rate of stomatal conductance and photosynthesis can be used for screening oil palm genotypes for drought tolerance. The progenies of Bamenda × Ekona and Tanzania × Ekona hybrids had drought tolerance and produced 40-42 tonnes of fresh fruit bunch during initial three years. The progenies of crosses between Deli × Yangambi (NIFOR, Nigeria), Bamenda × Ekona (ASD Costa Rica), Tanzania × Ekona and IRHO7010 were reported to adapt to prolonged drought conditions in Nigeria, Costa Rica and Colombia, respectively. Cameroon and Tanzanian genetic sources had cold tolerance and hybrids of Dami Deli × Cameroon /Tanzania crosses and Amazon (variety) are available with Agricultural Services Development, Costa Rica. Elaeis oleifera has inherent characteristics to tolerate drought and water stagnation, pest and disease resistance and exhibits slow vertical growth. ASD Costa Rica had developed compact palm utilising the genetic resources of E.oleifera. Varieties with short leaves and slow vertical growth are most preferred traits in oil palm industry to increase the productivity per unit area as they can be planted at high density. Information on early maturing varieties, dwarfness, rapid and quality planting material production technologies in relation to abiotic stress tolerance for oil palm are scanty.


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How to Cite

MURUGESAN, P., ASWATHY, G. M., KUMAR, K. S., MASILAMANI, P., KUMAR, V., & RAVI, V. (2017). Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) genetic resources for abiotic stress tolerance: A review. The Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 87(5), 571–579. https://doi.org/10.56093/ijas.v87i5.70087



Review Article