, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 197-206

Genotypic variation in durum wheat root systems at different stages of development in a Mediterranean environment

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Glasshouse and field experiments were carried out to compare root growth of eight durum wheat genotypes at different stages of development with different moisture levels and in different soils. Genotypic differences were found, particularly at the stem elongation and heading stages of development, but the ranking of genotypes varied in relation to soil moisture level and fertility. Differences under optimal moisture level were mainly due to differences in tillering and disappeared by considering the root number and weight per culm. Drought caused an increase in the root-to-total-plant weight ratio (18.5 vs 14.3% at heading) but also an increase in absolute root weight. Karel, the genotype with the largest root mass under drought and the greatest proportion of roots in the upper soil layers (more than 50% in the 0–20 cm layer from heading onwards), showed the lowest yield reduction under severe stress. A large root system with a high density of roots in the upper layers of the soil profile may be beneficial in Mediterranean climates.

Research supported by a grant of Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (40%).