Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Genotypic variation in soil water use and root distribution and their implications for drought tolerance in chickpea

Ramamoorthy Purushothaman A B , Lakshmanan Krishnamurthy A F , Hari D. Upadhyaya A C D , Vincent Vadez A and Rajeev K. Varshney A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A International Crops Research Institute for the Semiarid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Telangana, India.

B Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad (JNTUH), Hyderabad 500 085, Telangana, India.

C Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, 2004 Throckmorton PSC, 1712 Claflin Road, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.

D UWA Institute of Agriculture, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

E School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: lkm1949@gmail.com

Functional Plant Biology 44(2) 235-252 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP16154
Submitted: 24 April 2016  Accepted: 16 September 2016   Published: 28 November 2016

Abstract

Chickpeas are often grown under receding soil moisture and suffer ~50% yield losses due to drought stress. The timing of soil water use is considered critical for the efficient use of water under drought and to reduce yield losses. Therefore the root growth and the soil water uptake of 12 chickpea genotypes known for contrasts in drought and rooting response were monitored throughout the growth period both under drought and optimal irrigation. Root distribution reduced in the surface and increased in the deep soil layers below 30 cm in response to drought. Soil water uptake was the maximum at 45–60 cm soil depth under drought whereas it was the maximum at shallower (15–30 and 30–45 cm) soil depths when irrigated. The total water uptake under drought was 1-fold less than optimal irrigation. The amount of water left unused remained the same across watering regimes. All the drought sensitive chickpea genotypes were inferior in root distribution and soil water uptake but the timing of water uptake varied among drought tolerant genotypes. Superiority in water uptake in most stages and the total water use determined the best adaptation. The water use at 15–30 cm soil depth ensured greater uptake from lower depths and the soil water use from 90–120 cm soil was critical for best drought adaptation. Root length density and the soil water uptake across soil depths were closely associated except at the surface or the ultimate soil depths of root presence.

Additional keywords: drought tolerance, field phenotyping, root length density, soil water utilisation.


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