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, 67 (12), 3719-29

Salinity-induced Reduction in Root Surface Area and Changes in Major Root and Shoot Traits at the Phytomer Level in Wheat


Salinity-induced Reduction in Root Surface Area and Changes in Major Root and Shoot Traits at the Phytomer Level in Wheat

Arif Hasan Khan Robin et al. J Exp Bot.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of salinity stress on root growth at the phytomer level in wheat to provide novel site-specific understanding of salinity damage in roots. Seedlings of 13 wheat varieties were grown hydroponically. Plants were exposed to three concentrations of NaCl, 0 (control), 50 and 100mM, from 47 days after sowing. In a destructive harvest 12 days later we determined the number of live leaves, adventitious roots, seminal roots and newly formed roots at the youngest phytomer; length and diameter of main axes; and length and diameter of root hairs and their number per millimetre of root axis. Elongation rate of main axes and root hair density were then derived. Root surface area at each root-bearing phytomer (Pr) was mechanistically modelled. New root formation was increased by salt exposure, while number of live leaves per plant decreased. The greatest salinity effect on root axis elongation was observed at the youngest roots at Pr1 and Pr2. Both the 50mM and the 100mM levels of salinity reduced root hair length by approximately 25% and root hair density by 40% compared with the control whereas root hairs alone contributed around 93% of the estimated total root surface area of an individual tiller. Decrease in main axis length of new roots, root hair density and root hair length combined to reduce estimated root surface area by 36-66% at the higher NaCl concentration. The varietal response towards the three salinity levels was found to be trait-specific. The data highlight reduction in root surface area as a major but previously largely unrecognized component of salinity damage. Salinity resistance is trait-specific. Selection for retention of root surface area at a specific phytomer position following salt exposure might be useful in development of salinity-tolerant crop varieties.

Keywords: Phytomer; root growth; root hairs; root surface area; salinity stress; wheat..

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