Lowland rice roots have a unique physiological response to drought because of their adaptation to flooded soil. Rice root attributes that facilitate growth under flooded conditions may affect rice response to drought, but the relative roles of root structural and functional characteristics for water uptake under drought in rice are not known. Morphological, anatomical, biochemical, and molecular attributes of soil-grown rice roots were measured to investigate the genotypic variability and genotype×environment interactions of water uptake under variable soil water regimes. Drought-resistant genotypes had the lowest night-time bleeding rates of sap from the root system in the field. Diurnal fluctuation predominated as the strongest source of variation for bleeding rates in the field and root hydraulic conductivity (Lp r) in the greenhouse, and was related to expression trends of various PIP and TIP aquaporins. Root anatomy was generally more responsive to drought treatments in drought-resistant genotypes. Suberization and compaction of sclerenchyma layer cells decreased under drought, whereas suberization of the endodermis increased, suggesting differential roles of these two cell layers for the retention of oxygen under flooded conditions (sclerenchyma layer) and retention of water under drought (endodermis). The results of this study point to the genetic variability in responsiveness to drought of rice roots in terms of morphology, anatomy, and function.
Henry, A.; Cal, A.J.; Batoto, T.C.; Torres, R.O.; Serraj, R. Root attributes affecting water uptake of rice (Oryza sativa) under drought. Journal of Experimental Botany (2012) 63 (13) 4751-4763. [DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers150]