J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2014, Vol. 56 ›› Issue (5): 455-469.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12109

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Quantifying relationships between rooting traits and water uptake under drought in Mediterranean barley and durum wheat

Pedro Carvalho1, Sayed Azam-Ali2 and M. John Foulkes1*   

  1. 1Division of Plant and Crop Sciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK
    2The University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, Selangor Darul, Ehsan, Malaysia
  • Received:2013-05-08 Accepted:2013-09-08 Published:2014-05-01
  • About author:*Corresponding author Tel: +115 951 6024; Fax: +115 951 6060; E-mail: john.foulkes@nottingham.ac.uk


In Mediterranean regions drought is the major factor limiting spring barley and durum wheat grain yields. This study aimed to compare spring barley and durum wheat root and shoot responses to drought and quantify relationships between root traits and water uptake under terminal drought. One spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L. cv. Rum) and two durum wheat Mediterranean cultivars (Triticum turgidum L. var durum cvs Hourani and Karim) were examined in soil-column experiments under well watered and drought conditions. Root system architecture traits, water uptake, and plant growth were measured. Barley aerial biomass and grain yields were higher than for durum wheat cultivars in well watered conditions. Drought decreased grain yield more for barley (47%) than durum wheat (30%, Hourani). Root-to-shoot dry matter ratio increased for durum wheat under drought but not for barley, and root weight increased for wheat in response to drought but decreased for barley. The critical root length density (RLD) and root volume density (RVD) for 90% available water capture for wheat were similar to (cv. Hourani) or lower than (cv. Karim) for barley depending on wheat cultivar. For both species, RVD accounted for a slightly higher proportion of phenotypic variation in water uptake under drought than RLD.

Key words: Barley, Mediterranean, root architecture, root length density, root traits, root volume density, water, wheat

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