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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology

 

 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.


Two potato (Solanum tuberosum) varieties differ in drought tolerance due to differences in root growth at depth

Jaime Puertolas, Carlos Ballester, David Elphinstone, Ian Dodd

Abstract

To test the hypothesis that root growth at depth is a key trait explaining some genotypic differences in drought tolerance in potato (Solanum tuberosum), two varieties (‘Horizon’ and ‘Maris Piper’) differing in drought tolerance were subjected to different irrigation regimes in pots in a glasshouse and in the field under a polytunnel. In the glasshouse, both cultivars showed similar gas exchange, leaf water potential, leaf xylem abscisic acid concentration, and shoot biomass independently of whether plants were grown under well-watered or water deficit conditions. Under well-watered conditions, root growth was three-fold higher in ‘Horizon’ compared to ‘Maris Piper’, three weeks post-emergence. Water deficit reduced this difference. In the polytunnel, applying 60% or less irrigation volume compared to full irrigation significantly decreased tuber yield in ‘Maris Piper’ but not in ‘Horizon’. This was coincident with higher root density of ‘Horizon’ in deep soil (> 40 cm) layers, where water content was stable. The results suggest that early vigorous root proliferation may be a useful selection trait for maintaining yield of potato under restricted irrigation or rainfall, because it rapidly secures access to water stored in deep soil layers. Although selecting for vigorous root growth may assist phenotyping screening for drought tolerance, these varieties may require particular environmental or cultural conditions to express root vigour, such as sufficiently deep soils or sufficient water shortly after emergence.

FP14105  Accepted 05 June 2014
 
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