Root traits and complex biostimulants

Insight

Roots and drought

Are we paving the way for improved drought adaptation and productivity in plants?

Drought is a major challenge in agriculture, significantly impacting plant growth and productivity. Understanding how plant roots better adapt for drought and the role of complex biostimulants in this process is crucial. This article explores these aspects, inspired by research such as “Root traits contributing to plant productivity under drought” (Comas et al., 2013) and others.

Root traits for drought adaptation

Roots play a vital role in plant adaptation to drought. Traits like small fine root diameters, long specific root length, and considerable root length density, especially at depths with available water, are crucial (Comas et al., 2013). Deep root growth and xylem diameters in deep roots enhance water acquisition when water is available at depth. Genetic control of these traits through breeding is a feasible approach to increase crop productivity under drought conditions.

Role of complex biostimulants

Biostimulants, like those derived from Ascophyllum nodosum extracts, can enhance drought tolerance in crops (Goñi et al., 2018). They improve root growth and function, thereby increasing water and nutrient uptake. These biostimulants also stimulate beneficial soil microorganisms, leading to improved soil health and structure, which further supports plant growth under drought conditions.

Physiological and molecular responses

Under drought stress, plants display a range of physiological and biochemical responses. The modulation of water uptake by adjusting root architecture and the interaction with soil microbes are key strategies for developing drought-resilient crops. For instance, microbial biostimulants have shown to reconfigure metabolism towards growth promotion and defence preconditioning in plants like maize (Nephali et al., 2021).

Climate change and water scarcity

This synergistic relationship between improved root traits and the application of complex biostimulants represents a promising avenue for developing drought-resistant crops, crucial for agriculture in an era of increasing climate variability.

Continued research in these areas is essential for sustainable agriculture in the face of global climate change and water scarcity challenges.

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