Root hairs are the most important root trait for rhizosheath formation of barley (Hordeum vulgare), maize (Zea mays) and Lotus japonicus (Gifu)

Burak, E. and Quinton, J.N. and Dodd, I.C. (2021) Root hairs are the most important root trait for rhizosheath formation of barley (Hordeum vulgare), maize (Zea mays) and Lotus japonicus (Gifu). Annals of Botany, 128 (1). pp. 45-57. ISSN 0305-7364

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Background and Aims: Rhizosheaths are defined as the soil adhering to the root system after it is extracted from the ground. Root hairs and mucilage (root exudates) are key root traits involved in rhizosheath formation, but to better understand the mechanisms involved their relative contributions should be distinguished. Methods: The ability of three species [barley (Hordeum vulgare), maize (Zea mays) and Lotus japonicus (Gifu)] to form a rhizosheath in a sandy loam soil was compared with that of their root-hairless mutants [bald root barley (brb), maize root hairless 3 (rth3) and root hairless 1 (Ljrhl1)]. Root hair traits (length and density) of wild-type (WT) barley and maize were compared along with exudate adhesiveness of both barley and maize genotypes. Furthermore, root hair traits and exudate adhesiveness from different root types (axile versus lateral) were compared within the cereal species. Key Results: Per unit root length, rhizosheath size diminished in the order of barley > L. japonicus > maize in WT plants. Root hairs significantly increased rhizosheath formation of all species (3.9-, 3.2- and 1.8-fold for barley, L. japonicus and maize, respectively) but there was no consistent genotypic effect on exudate adhesiveness in the cereals. While brb exudates were more and rth3 exudates were less adhesive than their respective WTs, maize rth3 bound more soil than barley brb. Although both maize genotypes produced significantly more adhesive exudate than the barley genotypes, root hair development of WT barley was more extensive than that of WT maize. Thus, the greater density of longer root hairs in WT barley bound more soil than WT maize. Root type did not seem to affect rhizosheath formation, unless these types differed in root length. Conclusions: When root hairs were present, greater root hair development better facilitated rhizosheath formation than root exudate adhesiveness. However, when root hairs were absent root exudate adhesiveness was a more dominant trait.

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Journal Article
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Annals of Botany
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14 Sep 2021 10:42
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 01:45