Phenotypic plasticity and water flux rates of Citrus root orders under salinity

Boris Rewald, Eran Raveh, Tanya Gendler, Jhonathan E. Ephrath, Shimon Rachmilevitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Knowledge about the root system structure and the uptake efficiency of root orders is critical to understand the adaptive plasticity of plants towards salt stress. Thus, this study describes the phenological and physiological plasticity of Citrus volkameriana rootstocks under severe NaCl stress on the level of root orders. Phenotypic root traits known to influence uptake processes, for example frequency of root orders, specific root area, cortical thickness, and xylem traits, did not change homogeneously throughout the root system, but changes after 6 months under 90 mM NaCl stress were root order specific. Chloride accumulation significantly increased with decreasing root order, and the Cl- concentration in lower root orders exceeded those in leaves. Water flux densities of first-order roots decreased to <20% under salinity and did not recover after stress release. The water flux densities of higher root orders changed marginally under salinity and increased 2-to 6-fold in second and third root orders after short-term stress release. Changes in root order frequency, morphology, and anatomy indicate rapid and major modification of C. volkameriana root systems under salt stress. Reduced water uptake under salinity was related to changes of water flux densities among root orders and to reduced root surface areas. The importance of root orders for water uptake changed under salinity from root tips towards higher root orders. The root order-specific changes reflect differences in vulnerability (indicated by the salt accumulation) and ontogenetic status, and point to functional differences among root orders under high salinity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2717-2727
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Anatomy
  • Citrus volkameriana
  • NaCl accumulation
  • biomass
  • miniature depletion chambers
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • root architecture
  • root order
  • salt stress
  • water flux density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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