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Keywords:

  • Triticum aestivum;
  • biomass allocation;
  • nitrogen-use efficiency;
  • photosynthesis;
  • relative growth rate;
  • stomatal conductance;
  • water-use efficiency;
  • wheat

ABSTRACT

In environments where the amount of water is limiting growth, water-use efficiency (biomass production per unit water use) is an important trait. We studied the relationships of plant growth and water use efficiency with the pattern of biomass allocation, using 10 wheat cultivars, grown at two soil moisture levels in a growth chamber. Allocation pattern and relative growth rate were not correlated, whereas allocation pattern and water use efficiency were. Variation in transpiration per plant resulted from variation in the rate of transpiration per unit leaf area or root weight, rather than from differences in leaf area or root weight per plant. Transpiration per unit leaf area or root weight was lower when the leaf area or root weight per unit plant weight was larger. Also, the efficiency of water use at the plant and leaf levels was higher for plants with a higher leaf area per unit plant weight, and it was not correlated with the plant's growth rate. Differences in water-use efficiency at the leaf level were related to variation in stomatal conductance, rather than in the rate of photosynthesis. A high photosynthetic water-use efficiency was associated with a low efficiency of nitrogen use for photosynthesis.