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Interactions among rooting traits for deep water and nitrogen uptake in upland and lowland ecotypes of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.).


ABSTRACT: The response of plant growth and development to nutrient and water availability is an important adaptation for abiotic stress tolerance. Roots need to intercept both passing nutrients and water while foraging into new soil layers for further resources. Substantial amounts of nitrate can be lost in the field when leaching into groundwater, yet very little is known about how deep rooting affects this process. Here, we phenotyped root system traits and deep 15N nitrate capture across 1.5 m vertical profiles of solid media using tall mesocosms in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a promising cellulosic bioenergy feedstock. Root and shoot biomass traits, photosynthesis and respiration measures, and nutrient uptake and accumulation traits were quantified in response to a water and nitrate stress factorial experiment for switchgrass upland (VS16) and lowland (AP13) ecotypes. The two switchgrass ecotypes shared common plastic abiotic responses to nitrogen (N) and water availability, and yet had substantial genotypic variation for root and shoot traits. A significant interaction between N and water stress combination treatments for axial and lateral root traits represents a complex and shared root development strategy for stress mitigation. Deep root growth and 15N capture were found to be closely linked to aboveground growth. Together, these results represent the wide genetic pool of switchgrass and show that deep rooting promotes nitrate capture, plant productivity, and sustainability.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC8793874 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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