Root-favoured biomass allocation improves growth and yield of field-grown rice (Oryza sativa L.) plants only when the shoot sink is expandable
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We tested the hypothesis that high root/shoot (R/S) in rice improves plant growth and yield when the shoot sink is expandable, and that in a genotype with exaggerated R/S ratio, the shoot growth is not limited by root resources. This study involved the three rice genotypes, Giza 178, PM12, and Moroberekan with a range of R/S ratios and shoot sink sizes. Root regrowth after trimming or high- and low-nitrogen treatments revealed that Moroberekan has consistently high root-favoured biomass partitioning than Giza 178 or PM12. Increasing the R/S ratios by detillering improved the culm growth in Giza 178 and PM12 (by 43.4 and 17.7% of control, respectively) but not Moroberekan, indicating that PM12 was closer to achieving its growth potential than Giza 178 but Moroberekan was operating at maximal shoot growth potential because of high R/S ratio and small sink size. Under drought, shoot growth, gas exchange, and grain yield correlated strongly with R/S ratio and root length density (RLD) in the droughted but not the well-watered plants. We further hypothesized that R/S ratio of Moroberekan was in excess of shoot requirement for optimum growth. Crossing Moroberekan to PM12 generated three F1 hybrids with intermediate R/S ratios but higher growth, gas exchange, and yield than either parent. We conclude that increasing the R/S ratio improved growth and yield in PM12 but not Moroberekan, because the shoot sink size was expandable in PM12. Moreover, lower R/S ratios than that of Moroberekan could support higher shoot growth if shoot sink is expandable.
KeywordsRice Root/shoot ratio Root length density Architecture Growth Gas exchange Grain yield
The authors are grateful to Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF, Egypt) for funding this work.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
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