Insights into root structure and function of Bassia indica: Water redistribution and element dispersion

Oren Shelef, Paula Pongrac, Primož Pelicon, Primož Vavpetič, Mitja Kelemen, Merav Seifan, Boris Rewald, Shimon Rachmilevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last few decades, research has increasingly been aimed at clarifying how root system architecture, physiology and function are related to environmental drivers. 'Negative halotropism' has been defined as the alteration of root growth direction to avoid salinity. We suggested that 'positive halotropism' may be found in halophytes relying on salinity for optimal growth. Investigating root structure of the halophyte Bassia indica (Wight) A. J. Scott, we have shown that positive halotropism can explain the growth of horizontal roots towards optimal salt concentrations along a soil salinity gradient. Here we tested three hypotheses. First, that development of B. indica roots depends on a trade-off between optimal nutrient supply and saline concentrations: results of split-root-experiment showed a preference for sand enriched with nutrients and poor in salts. Second, that shallow horizontal roots enable B. indica to forage for nutrient-rich patches. Results demonstrated that bulk elemental analysis was not consistent with tissue-specific elemental analysis, and this can be explained by substantial variability of element composition of particular root segments. Third, we hypothesised that B. indica redistributes water horizontally through shallow horizontal roots. Results showed that back flow of water from the tap root towards tip root was possible in horizontal roots in saline microenvironment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)620-631
Number of pages12
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • abiotic stress
  • halotropism
  • root
  • salinity
  • spatial distribution
  • water redistribution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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