Genetic variation for aerenchyma and other root anatomical traits in durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.)
BACKGROUND AND AIMS Formation of root cortical aerenchyma (RCA) can be induced by nutrient deficiency. In species adapted to aerobic soil conditions, this response is adaptive by reducing root maintenance requirements, thereby permitting greater soil exploration. One trade-off of RCA formation may be reduced radial transport of nutrients due to reduction in living cortical tissue. To test this hypothesis, radial nutrient transport in intact roots of maize (Zea mays) was investigated in two radiolabelling experiments employing genotypes with contrasting RCA. METHODS In the first experiment, time-course dynamics of phosphate loading into the xylem were measured from excised nodal roots that varied in RCA formation. In the second experiment, uptake of phosphate, calcium and sulphate was measured in seminal roots of intact young plants in which variation in RCA was induced by treatments altering ethylene action or genetic differences. KEY RESULTS In each of three paired genotype comparisons, the rate of phosphate exudation of high-RCA genotypes was significantly less than that of low-RCA genotypes. In the second experiment, radial nutrient transport of phosphate and calcium was negatively correlated with the extent of RCA for some genotypes. CONCLUSIONS The results support the hypothesis that RCA can reduce radial transport of some nutrients in some genotypes, which could be an important trade-off of this trait.