Dry Matter Production of Two Rice Cultivars with Contrasting Root Plasticity Expression Under Different Topographic Conditions Subjected to Soil Moisture Fluctuation
In rainfed lowland rice fields characterized by sloping terrains and the presence of a hardpan in a flat topography, plants are often exposed to soil moisture fluctuation (SMF) stress due to erratic rainfall patterns. Root plasticity is one of the key traits that play important roles in plant adaptation under such conditions. In this study, two contrasting genotypes, KDML105 and IRAT109, were examined to quantify the expression of plasticity in root branching at different positions in the toposequence (TP) and in a flat topography with a hardpan, both without a groundwater table, and subjected to SMF. Results showed that KDML105 exhibited improved adaptation to SMF conditions due to its greater root system because of the promoted nodal root production and development of lateral roots in the upper soil layer (0 – 20 cm soil depth) along the TP and above the hardpan in a flat topography, which led to the maintenance of its stomatal conductance and dry matter production. IRAT109, on the other hand, did not express root plasticity in deep-rooting due to the absence of groundwater table, particularly in the upper TP, as well as branching ability above the hardpan in a flat topography, which resulted in less water uptake and reduced dry matter production under SMF. Overall, the results indicated that root plasticity in the upper soil layer could be an important trait for the adaptation of rice, both in a sloping TP without a hardpan or in a flat topography with a hardpan, experiencing SMF.