Miller, C.R.; Ochoa, I; Nielsen, K.L.; Beck, D.; Lynch, J.P.


Functional Plant Biology, CSIRO Publishing, Volume 30, Issue 9, Australia, p.973-985 (2003)

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We hypothesized that adventitious roots may improve crop adaptation to low-phosphorus soils by enhancing topsoil foraging. In a tropical field study, phosphorus stress stimulated adventitious rooting in two phosphorus-efficient genotypes of common bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris L.) but not in two phosphorus-inefficient genotypes. Although phosphorus availability had no consistent effects on the length or biomass of whole root systems, it had differential effects on adventitious, basal, and taproots within root systems in a genotype-dependent manner, resulting in increased allocation to adventitious roots in efficient genotypes. Adventitious roots had greater length per unit biomass than other root types, especially under phosphorus stress. Adventitious roots had less construction cost than basal roots, despite having similar tissue nitrogen content. Phosphorus stress reduced lateral root density, and adventitious roots had less lateral root density than basal roots. Lateral roots formed further from the root tip in adventitious roots compared with basal roots, especially under phosphorus stress. Field results were confirmed in controlled environments in solid and liquid media. Stimulation of adventitious rooting by phosphorus stress tended to be greater in wild genotypes than in cultivated genotypes. We propose that adventitious rooting is a useful adaptation to low phosphorus availability, because adventitious roots explore topsoil horizons more efficiently than other root types.