A closer look at root water potential: experimental evidence based on drought stress of Chrysopogon zizanioides

Suriya Prakash Ganesan, David Boldrin, Anthony Kwan Leung (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Gradients in water potential of soil and plant system drives the water movement in soil-plant-atmospheric continuum. Here, we demonstrate how root water potential measured directly from the roots upon changes in soil water potential would contribute to the understanding of the drought response in Chrysopogon zizanoides. Methods: Plants of Chrysopogon zizanoides L. were sampled at different soil water status (inducing drought) and growth periods (3-, 4- and 5- months). The roots and leaves of the plants were dissected to measure the root water potential and specific leaf area, respectively. The root water potential was measured in a WP4C dew-point potentiometer. Root diameter corresponding to the roots measured for root water potential was also measured. Results: Our findings showed a logarithmic increase in gradient between soil and root water potential under the induced drought stress, similar to the existing findings of root hydraulic conductance. Specific leaf area significantly decreased with root water potential, indicating the hydraulic continuity between roots and leaves. A new power law correlation between root diameter and root water potential established a trait-based understanding of root water uptake. Conclusion: The aggregation of such root water potential measurements using potentiometer would offer strategies to explore the implications of below-ground plant behaviour in applications such as slope stability and irrigation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalPlant and Soil
Early online date17 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2024


  • Drought
  • Plant hydraulic system
  • Root diameter
  • Root water potential
  • Root water uptake
  • Specific leaf area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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