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.
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Conflict of interest
The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
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