Plant and Soil

, Volume 425, Issue 1–2, pp 479–492 | Cite as

Rooting plasticity in wild and cultivated Andean Chenopodium species under soil water deficit

  • Ricardo Alvarez-Flores
  • Anh Nguyen-Thi-Truc
  • Santiago Peredo-Parada
  • Richard Joffre
  • Thierry Winkel
Regular Article


Background and aims

Rooting plasticity is critical for plants exploiting patchy soil-water resources, but empirical evidence remains controversial due to complex root/soil interactions in natural and agricultural environments. We compared cultivated and wild Chenopodium populations from distinct agroecological background to assess their rooting plasticity when exposed to contrasting wet-dry soil profiles in a controlled environment.


Four treatments of increasing dryness were applied during 6 weeks in plants of Chenopodium hircinum, Chenopodium pallidicaule and two ecotypes (wet- and dry-habitat) of Chenopodium quinoa grown in rhizotrons. Root system architecture and growth were sequentially mapped. At the end of the experiment, plant and root morphological traits and dry biomass were measured.


Contrary to the other two species, C. quinoa showed accelerated taproot growth in dry soil conditions. The dry-habitat C. quinoa ecotype showed consistently higher plant traits related to longer, coarser, and more numerous root segments which give it a faster taproot growth and sustained root branching at depth in dry soil.


High rooting plasticity confers the advantage of fast root elongation and deep soil exploration under soil water deficit. Variation in intrinsic root traits and plastic responses among Chenopodium populations controls their root foraging capacity facing patchy soil-water resources.


Chenopodium quinoa C. hircinum C. pallidicaule Root architecture Rhizotron Natural and human selection 



This research was funded by a PhD grant of the “Capital Humano Avanzado” programme of CONICYT (Chile), by the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche—The French National Research Agency, project ANR-06-PADD-011, EQUECO), and the collaborative program 2012-PCCI 12051 "Desarrollo de una perspectiva socioecológica para un rubro prometedor: la quínoa sostenible en Chile" between CONICYT (Chile) and IRD (France). We thank the staff of the Plateforme des Terrains d’Expériences and the Plateforme d’Analyses Chimiques en Écologie, technical facilities of the Labex CeMEB (ANR-10-LABX-0004-CeMEB) where the plants were grown and the root analyses done. We are most grateful to Felix Mamani Reynoso and Alejandro Bonifacio (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia) for kindly providing the seeds of C. pallidicaule and C. hircinum, to Dr. Jairo A. Palta (CSIRO, Australia) for his detailed remarks and suggestions about this manuscript and to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3588_MOESM1_ESM.doc (66 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 65 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEFE (Centre d’Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive), CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études), IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)Université de Montpellier, UPVM3 (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier III)MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Departamento de Gestión Agraria, Facultad TecnológicaUSACH (Universidad de Santiago de Chile)SantiagoChile

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