Modifying root-to-shoot ratio improves root water influxes in wheat under drought stress

Harel Bacher, Yoav Sharaby, Harkamal Walia, Zvi Peleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drought intensity as experienced by plants depends upon soil moisture status and atmospheric variables such as temperature, radiation, and air vapour pressure deficit. Although the role of shoot architecture with these edaphic and atmospheric factors is well characterized, the extent to which shoot and root dynamic interactions as a continuum are controlled by genotypic variation is less well known. Here, we targeted these interactions using a wild emmer wheat introgression line (IL20) with a distinct drought-induced shift in the shoot-to-root ratio and its drought-sensitive recurrent parent Svevo. Using a gravimetric platform, we show that IL20 maintained higher root water influx and gas exchange under drought stress, which supported a greater growth. Interestingly, the advantage of IL20 in root water influx and transpiration was expressed earlier during the daily diurnal cycle under lower vapour pressure deficit and therefore supported higher transpiration efficiency. Application of a structural equation model indicates that under drought, vapour pressure deficit and radiation are antagonistic to transpiration rate, whereas the root water influx operates as a feedback for the higher atmospheric responsiveness of leaves. Collectively, our results suggest that a drought-induced shift in root-to-shoot ratio can improve plant water uptake potential in a short preferable time window during early morning when vapour pressure deficit is low and the light intensity is not a limiting factor for assimilation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1643-1654
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2022


  • Drought stress
  • Droughts
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plant Roots
  • Triticum/genetics
  • VPD
  • Vapor Pressure
  • Water
  • gas exchange
  • root influx
  • transpiration
  • wild emmer wheat

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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