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J Exp Bot. 2007;58(11):2775-84. Epub 2007 Jul 3.

A study of the role of root morphological traits in growth of barley in zinc-deficient soil.

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  • 1Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, PMB 1, Glen Osmond SA 5064, Australia.

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  • J Exp Bot. 2007;58(14):4017.


Zinc (Zn) deficiency reduces crop yields globally. This study investigated the importance of root morphological traits, especially root hairs, in plant growth and Zn uptake. Wild-type barley (Hordeum vulgare) Pallas and its root-hairless mutant brb were grown in soil and solution culture at different levels of Zn supply for 16 d. Root morphological traits (root length, diameter, and surface area) were measured using the WinRHIZOPro Image Analysis system. In soil culture, Pallas had greater shoot dry matter, shoot Zn concentration, shoot Zn content, and Zn uptake per cm(2) root surface area than brb, primarily under zinc deficiency. Both Pallas and brb developed longer roots under Zn deficiency. Development of root hairs was not affected by plant Zn status. In solution culture, there were no significant genotypic differences in any of the parameters measured, indicating that mutation in brb does not affect growth and Zn uptake. However, both Pallas and brb developed longer and thinner roots, and root hair growth was less than in soil culture, and was not affected by plant Zn status. The better growth and greater Zn uptake of Pallas compared with brb in Zn-deficient soil can be attributed primarily to greater root surface area due to root hairs in Pallas rather than other root morphological differences.

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