In the present study, root hydrotropism in an agravitropic mutant of Pisum sativum L. grown in vermiculite with a steep water potential gradient was examined. When wet and dry vermiculite were placed side by side, water diffused from the wet (-0.04 MPa) to the dry (-1.2 MPa) and a steep water potential gradient became apparent in the dry vermiculite close to the boundary between the two. The extent and location of the gradient remained stable between the fourth and sixth day after filling a box with vermiculite, and the steepest gradient (approx. 0.02 MPa mm-1) was found in the initially dry vermiculite between 60 and 80 mm from the boundary. When seedlings with 25-35 mm long roots were planted in the initially dry vermiculite near where the gradient had been established, each of the main roots elongated toward the wet vermiculite, i.e. toward the high water potential. Control roots elongated without curvature in both the wet and the dry vermiculite, in which no water potential gradient was detectable. These results show that pea roots respond to the water potential gradient around them and elongate towards the higher water potential. Therefore, positive hydrotropism occurs in vermiculite just as it does in air. Hydrotropism in soil may be significant when a steep water potential gradient is apparent, such as when drip irrigation is applied.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science