Effects of water supply on partitioning of dry matter between roots and shoots in Lolium perenne.
When perennial ryegrass plants were subjected to 1 cycle of soil drying, to repeated cycles of drying, or when they were grown in dry soils, the RGR of the root system was reduced more than that of the shoot system. This brought about a decrease in the root:shoot ratio. Drought initially resulted in lower availability of water near to the soil surface than at greater depths; growth of the part of the root system near the soil surface was restricted and newly initiated main roots at the base of the shoot were unable to elongate. When plants were grown in sol. of low osmotic potential there was no effect on distribution of DM between roots and shoots, except at the lowest potential (-9.5 bar) which reduced root growth rather more than shoot growth. The effect of drought on root:shoot ratio in these experiments was compared with that reported by others. It was suggested that, in some circumstances, the availability of phosphate in the soil may influence the effect of drought on root:shoot ratios.