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Physiological and gene expression responses of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) plants differ according to irrigation placement

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Ana Aguado
  • Nieves Capote
  • Fernando Romero
  • Ian C. Dodd
  • Jose M. Colmenero-Flores
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Plant Science
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)37-44
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


To investigate effects of soil moisture heterogeneity on plant physiology and gene expression in roots and leaves, three treatments were implemented in sunflower plants growing with roots split between two compartments: a control (C) treatment supplying 100% of plant evapotranspiration, and two treatments receiving 50% of plant evapotranspiration, either evenly distributed to both compartments (deficit irrigation - DI) or unevenly distributed to ensure distinct wet and dry compartments (partial rootzone drying - PRD). Plants receiving the same amount of water responded differently under the two irrigation systems. After 3 days, evapotranspiration was similar in C and DI, but 20% less in PRD, concomitant with decreased leaf water potential (Psi(leaf)) and increased leaf xylem ABA concentration. Six water-stress responsive genes were highly induced in roots growing in the drying soil compartment of PRD plants, and their expression was best correlated with local soil water content. On the other hand, foliar gene expression differed significantly from that of the root and correlated better with xylem ABA concentration and Psi(leaf). While the PRD irrigation strategy triggered stronger physiological and molecular responses, suggesting a more intense and systemic stress reaction due to local dehydration of the dry compartment of PRD plants, the DI strategy resulted in similar water savings without strongly inducing these responses. Correlating physiological and molecular responses in PRD/DI plants may provide insights into the severity and location of water deficits and may enable a better understanding of long-distance signalling mechanisms. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.