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Enhanced root growth of the brb (bald root barley) mutant in drying soil allows similar shoot physiological responses to soil water deficit as wild-type plants

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>4/01/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Functional Plant Biology
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)199-206
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The genetics, molecular biology and nutrient uptake of plant root hair mutants have been studied in detail, but their physiological responses to soil drying have not. Thus, the root hairless brb (bald root barley) barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) mutant and its wild type (WT) were grown in drying soil. Well-watered, pre-tillering plants showed no genotypic differences in daily transpiration and leaf elongation rate, and the ratio of day to night leaf elongation (D/N, a sensitive indicator of water stress). After withholding water for 25 days, root hydraulic conductivity and xylem ABA concentration were similar between genotypes, but WT plants had more tillers and D/N was more than halved in brb. To avoid possible developmental and nutritional differences confounding responses to water deficit, pre-tillering plants were allowed to dry soils of high and low phosphorus (P) status. Although leaf area, leaf water potential and shoot fresh weight (FW) were similar in the two genotypes, root FW of brb was greater by 44 and 18% in a high and low P soil respectively. This adaptive response allowed brb to maintain similar shoot growth and transpiration as WT plants, despite decreased effective root surface area in the absence of root hairs.