Plants require water, but a deficit or excess of water can negatively impact their growth and functioning. Soil flooding, in which root-zone is filled with excess water, restricts oxygen diffusion into the soil. Global climate change is increasing the risk of crop yield loss caused by flooding, and the development of flooding tolerant crops is urgently needed. Root anatomical traits are essential for plants to adapt to drought and flooding, as they determine the balance between the rates of water and oxygen transport. The stele contains xylem and the cortex contains aerenchyma (gas spaces), which respectively contribute to water uptake from the soil and oxygen supply to the roots; this implies that there is a trade-off between the ratio of cortex and stele sizes with respect to adaptation to drought or flooding. In this review, we analyze recent advances in the understanding of root anatomical traits that confer drought and/or flooding tolerance to plants and illustrate the trade-off between cortex and stele sizes. Moreover, we introduce the progress that has been made in modelling and fully automated analyses of root anatomical traits and discuss how key root anatomical traits can be used to improve crop tolerance to soil flooding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science