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Open AccessAbstract

How Do Crops Balance Water Supply and Demand when Water Is Limiting?

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland, Warwick 4370, Australia
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Jimma University, Jimma, PO Box 307, Jimma, Ethiopia
InterGrain Pty Ltd, Bibra Lake 6163, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the third International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TROPAG 2019), Brisbane, Australia, 11–13 November 2019.
Proceedings 2019, 36(1), 208;
Published: 9 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The Third International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TROPAG 2019))
Plants are sessile organisms requiring mechanisms that enable them to balance water supply and demand in dry environments. Demand (D) is largely driven by canopy size (transpirational leaf area), although differences in transpiration per unit leaf area also occur. Supply (S) is primarily driven by water capture via the root system. Drought stress can be defined as the situation where supply of water cannot meet demand of the crop, such that water availability is the limiting factor for biomass accumulation. Under such conditions, plants will need to reduce D in order to meet the limited S, access more water to increase S, or increase the efficiency with which water is utilised. We used sorghum, a model C4 crop species, to demonstrate how the stay-green trait can modulate canopy development and root architecture to enhance adaptation. We show how stay-green positively impacts the balance between S and D under post-flowering drought, including insights at the molecular level. We provide examples of how canopy and root traits impact the S/D balance in other cereals under water limitation. For example, on the supply side, the extent of genetic variation for root angle (RA) has been evaluated in sorghum, wheat and barley, and genomic regions associated with RA have been mapped. Furthermore, the relationship between RA and grain yield has been explored in barley and sorghum field trials. The capacity to manipulate components of S and D to optimise the S/D balance should assist crop improvement programs to develop enhanced ideotypes for dry environments.
Keywords: water supply and demand; drought adaptation; stay-green; sorghum; wheat; barley water supply and demand; drought adaptation; stay-green; sorghum; wheat; barley
MDPI and ACS Style

Borrell, A.; George-Jaeggli, B.; Oosterom, E.; Hammer, G.; Mace, E.; Godwin, I.; Liu, G.; Wong, A.; Matiwos, T.; Bantte, K.; Christopher, J.; Hickey, L.; Richard, C.; Robinson, H.; Jordan, D. How Do Crops Balance Water Supply and Demand when Water Is Limiting? Proceedings 2019, 36, 208.

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