Do root hydraulic properties change during the early vegetative stage of plant development in barley (Hordeum vulgare)?Ann Bot. 2014 Feb; 113(3):385-402.AB
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
As annual crops develop, transpirational water loss increases substantially. This increase has to be matched by an increase in water uptake through the root system. The aim of this study was to assess the contributions of changes in intrinsic root hydraulic conductivity (Lp, water uptake per unit root surface area, driving force and time), driving force and root surface area to developmental increases in root water uptake.
Hydroponically grown barley plants were analysed during four windows of their vegetative stage of development, when they were 9-13, 14-18, 19-23 and 24-28 d old. Hydraulic conductivity was determined for individual roots (Lp) and for entire root systems (Lp(r)). Osmotic Lp of individual seminal and adventitious roots and osmotic Lp(r) of the root system were determined in exudation experiments. Hydrostatic Lp of individual roots was determined by root pressure probe analyses, and hydrostatic Lp(r) of the root system was derived from analyses of transpiring plants.
Although osmotic and hydrostatic Lp and Lp(r) values increased initially during development and were correlated positively with plant transpiration rate, their overall developmental increases (about 2-fold) were small compared with increases in transpirational water loss and root surface area (about 10- to 40-fold). The water potential gradient driving water uptake in transpiring plants more than doubled during development, and potentially contributed to the increases in plant water flow. Osmotic Lp(r) of entire root systems and hydrostatic Lp(r) of transpiring plants were similar, suggesting that the main radial transport path in roots was the cell-to-cell path at all developmental stages.
Increase in the surface area of root system, and not changes in intrinsic root hydraulic properties, is the main means through which barley plants grown hydroponically sustain an increase in transpirational water loss during their vegetative development.