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Changes In Physiological And Morphological Traits Of Roots And Shoots Of Wheat In Response To Different Depths Of Waterlogging

Al Imran Malik, Timothy D. Colmer, Hans Lambers, Marcus Schortemeyer

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The growth reduction of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) during and after waterlogging stress depends on the depth of water from the soil surface. In a pot experiment with 3-week-old plants, soil was waterlogged for 14 d at the surface, or at 100 or 200 mm below the surface, and pots were then drained to assess recovery. A fully drained treatment kept at field capacity served as control. During waterlogging, the relative growth rate of roots decreased more than that of shoots (by 6–27% for shoots, by 15–74% for roots), and plant growth was reduced proportionally as the water level was increased. Light-saturated net photosynthesis was reduced by 70–80% for the two most severe waterlogging treatments, but was little affected for plants in soil waterlogged at 200 mm below the surface. The number of adventitious roots formed per stem in plants grown in waterlogged soil increased up to 1.5 times, but the number of tillers per plant was reduced by 24–62%. The adventitious roots only penetrated 85–116 mm below the water level in all waterlogging treatments. Adventitious root porosity was enhanced up to 10-fold for plants grown in waterlogged soil, depending on water level and position along the roots. Porosity also increased in basal zones of roots above the water level when the younger tissues had penetrated the waterlogged zone. Fourteen days after draining the pots, growth rates of plants where the soil had been waterlogged at 200 mm below the surface had recovered, while those of plants in the more severely waterlogged treatments had only partially recovered. These findings show that the depth of waterlogging has a large impact on the response of wheat both during and after a waterlogging event so that assessment of recovery is essential in evaluating waterlogging tolerance in crops.