Superior root hair formation confers root efficiency in some, but not all, rice genotypes upon P deficiency

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Root hairs are a low-cost way to extend root surface area (RSA), water and nutrient acquisition. This study investigated to what extend variation exists for root hair formation in rice in dependence of genotype, phosphorus (P) supply, growth medium, and root type. In general, genotypic variation was found for three root hair properties: root hair length, density, and longevity. In low P nutrient solution more than twofold genotypic difference was detected for root hair length while only onefold variation was found in low P soil. These differences were mostly due to the ability of some genotypes to increase root hair length in response to P deficiency. In addition, we were able to show that a higher proportion of root hairs remain viable even in mature, field-grown plants under low P conditions. All investigated root hair parameters exhibited high correlations across root types which were always higher in the low P conditions compared to the high P controls. Therefore we hypothesize that a low P response leads to a systemic signal in the entire root system. The genotype DJ123 consistently had the longest root hairs under low P conditions and we estimated that, across the field-grown root system, root hairs increased the total RSA by 31% in this genotype. This would explain why DJ123 is considered to be very root efficient in P uptake and suggests that DJ123 should be utilized as a donor in breeding for enhanced P uptake. Surprisingly, another root and P efficient genotype seemed not to rely on root hair growth upon P deficiency and therefore must contain different methods of low P adaptation. Genotypic ranking of root hair properties did change substantially with growth condition highlighting the need to phenotype plants in soil-based conditions or at least to validate results obtained in solution-based growth conditions.




Nestler, J., & Wissuwa, M. (2016). Superior root hair formation confers root efficiency in some, but not all, rice genotypes upon P deficiency. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7(DECEMBER2016).

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