Salinity Effects on Root Growth and Senescence in Tomato and the Consequences for Severity of Phytophthora Root Rot Infection

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Authors: S.S. Snapp1 and C. Shennan1
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  • 1 Vegetable Crops Department, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Roots respond first to edaphic stresses, yet little is known about root response to stress in mature, soil-grown plants. We investigated the effects of salinity and phytophthora root rot on root growth and senescence in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Using minirhizotron- and rhizotron-based methodologies, we quantified intraspecific differences in root-system response to salinity and inoculation. Genotype susceptibility to salt-induced disease was related to root vulnerability to salt. `UC82B' was vulnerable to infection by Phytophthora parasitica when subjected to salt stress and produced thinner roots and ≈50% higher root-senescence rates compared to the phytophthora root rot-resistant `CX8303'. Root growth at the peripheral regions of the `CX8303' root system was inhibited by salinity, but otherwise root dynamics were not affected by salinity or inoculation. Overall, roots from the central root system and roots from the periphery responded differently to salt stress. Monitoring the diameters of new initiated roots indicated the vulnerability of a stressed root system to disease and early senescence.

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