How roots of crops adapt to climate change?

Plant roots are responsible for water and nutrients uptake, but changes in soil temperatures associated to climate change alters this process limiting crop growth. Root traits for adaptation to this stress are being used to obtain better crops. In this review, we have summarized the current knowledge about these traits and their impact on yield.


Climate change is threatening crop productivity worldwide and new solutions to adapt crops to these environmental changes are urgently needed. Elevated temperatures driven by climate change affect developmental and physiological plant processes that, ultimately, impact on crop yield and quality. Plant roots are responsible for water and nutrients uptake, but changes in soil temperatures alters this process limiting crop growth. With the predicted variable climatic forecast, the development of an efficient root system better adapted to changing soil and environmental conditions is crucial for enhancing crop productivity. Root traits associated with improved adaptation to rising temperatures are increasingly being analysed to obtain more suitable crop varieties. In this review, we have described the main alterations in root architecture that different crops undergo in response to warmer soils. We have also outline the main coordinated physiological, cellular, molecular and metabolic changes taking place in roots and aerial parts that modulate the global response of the plant to increased temperatures. In the field, increasing temperatures are usually associated with other abiotic and biotic stresses such as drought, salinity, nutrient deficiencies, and pathogen infections. In this context, we have also summarized the recent advances on how the root system is able to integrate and respond to complex and different stimuli in order to adapt to an increasingly changing environment. Finally, we discussed the new prospects and challenges in this field as well as the more promising pathways for future research.


Original Paper:

Calleja-Cabrera, J., Boter, M., Oñate-Sánchez, L., Pernas, M. 2020. Root Growth Adaptation to Climate Change in Crops. Frontiers in Plant Science 11, 544. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00544