Local root abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation depends on the spatial distribution of soil moisture in potato: implications for ABA signalling under heterogeneous soil drying

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Abstract

Patterns of root abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation ([ABA]root), root water potential (Ψroot), and root water uptake (RWU), and their impact on xylem sap ABA concentration ([X-ABA]) were measured under vertical partial root-zone drying (VPRD, upper compartment dry, lower compartment wet) and horizontal partial root-zone drying (HPRD, two lateral compartments: one dry, the other wet) of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). When water was withheld from the dry compartment for 0–10 d, RWU and Ψroot were similarly lower in the dry compartment when soil volumetric water content dropped below 0.22cm3 cm–3 for both spatial distributions of soil moisture. However, [ABA]root increased in response to decreasing Ψroot in the dry compartment only for HPRD, resulting in much higher ABA accumulation than in VPRD. The position of the sampled roots (~4cm closer to the surface in the dry compartment of VPRD than in HPRD) might account for this difference, since older (upper) roots may accumulate less ABA in response to decreased Ψroot than younger (deeper) roots. This would explain differences in root ABA accumulation patterns under vertical and horizontal soil moisture gradients reported in the literature. In our experiment, these differences in root ABA accumulation did not influence [X-ABA], since the RWU fraction (and thus ABA export to shoots) from the dry compartment dramatically decreased simultaneously with any increase in [ABA]root. Thus, HPRD might better trigger a long-distance ABA signal than VPRD under conditions allowing simultaneous high [ABA]root and relatively high RWU fraction.

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