Drought-Tolerant Barley: II. Root Tip characteristics in Emerging Roots
Reduced water resources are of increasingly urgent global concern. One potential strategy to address the crisis is the use of drought tolerant crops in agriculture. Barley varieties developed for reduced irrigation ("Solum" and "Solar") use significantly less water than conventional varieties ("Cochise" and "Kopious"). The underlying mechanism of this drought tolerance is unknown but root structure and function play a key role in plant water uptake. In this study, an empirical survey compared
... l survey compared early root development between drought tolerant and conventional varieties. Traits associated with root meristem-regulated cell division including rate of seed germination, border cell number and root cap mucilage production, and root hair emergence were quantified during root emergence. Preliminary results revealed that drought tolerant varieties exhibited faster seed germination and root hair production than conventional varieties. Border cell number and mucilage production in the drought tolerant varieties also were higher than in the conventional variety "Kopious," but lower than in "Cochise". Each trait, if found to be linked to the observed drought tolerance, could yield a simple, rapid, and inexpensive tool to screen for new crop varieties. Further detailed studies are needed.