Wheat root diversity and root functional characterization
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Background and Aims
Under limited moisture conditions, roots can play an outstanding role with respect to yield stability by effective absorption of water from soil. A targeted integration of root traits into plant breeding programs requires knowledge on the existing root diversity and access to easy and cost-effective methods. This study aimed to assess wheat root diversity, root properties in relation to water regime, and the efficiency of root capacitance for in situ screening.
Root morphological, anatomical properties and root capacitance of wheat species from different ploidy levels were studied under field conditions in 2 years contrasting in water regime. Soil water content was weekly measured.
Significant genotypic differences were observed for most root traits. The investigated genotypes exploited different strategies to maximize soil water depletion, e.g. high topsoil root length density, low tissue mass density, high specific root length, deep rooting and looser xylem vessels. Multivariate statistics of root traits revealed an acceptable genotypic differentiation according to regional origin, genetics and capacity to extract soil water.
Under supply-driven environments, dehydration avoidance via water uptake maximization can be achieved through high topsoil rooting density. In this regard, root capacitance can be useful for in situ screening.
KeywordsDrought Electrical capacitance Spring wheat Triticum spp Water stress
Root electrical capacitance
Root length density
Root to shoot ratio
Specific root length
Tissue mass density
We thank Dr. Elsa Arcalis (IAGZ, BOKU) for her assistance in root anatomical measurements. Original seeds of plant genetic resources were provided by the genebank curators H.E. Bockelman (NSGC, USDA-ARS), A. Graner (IPK, Gatersleben), T. Payne (CIMMYT), J. Lafferty (SZD, Probstdorf), and by G. Ghambashidze (GSAU, Tbilisi). We also thank the reviewers for constructive comments to improve the manuscript.
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