Rice is grown between 550N and 360S latitudes under diverse growth conditions such as irrigated, rainfed lowland, rainfed upland and floodprone ecosystems (Khush, 1997). More than half of the world's rice is grown under irrigated conditions (Figure 1.2). However, since the time of its initial domestication, the Asian cultivated rice has been moved across the globe with migrating human populations. Hence rice cultivation can now be found on all continents except Antarctica and feeds more than half of the world's population (Londo et al., 2006).
Rainfed lowland rice
Rainfed lowland rice is grown in one-fourth of the world's total rice cultivated area (Figure 1.2) in bunded fields that are flooded for at least part of the cropping season to water depths that exceed 100 cm for less than ten consecutive days (Maclean et al., 2002). It comprises of approximately 37 million hectares (harvested area) an equivalent of 25% of the world rice area. With a total of 92 million t year-1; it produces 17% of the global rice supply (Wopereis et al., 1995).
Upland or dryland rice
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Upland rice is always direct seeded and grown in unbunded fields of often naturally well drained soils without surface accumulation of water. It covers about 19 million hectares of land and contributes 4% to the world total rice production with an average of 1 t ha-1 (Wopereis et al., 1995). It is currently grown on three continents (Asia, Latin America and Africa) mostly by small scale subsistence farmers in the poorest regions of the world (IRRI, 1975).
Figure 1.2. Shows the distribution of world rice area in different ecologies (Source: Khush, 1997).
2.0 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND JUSTIFICATION
The world's population is said to be growing inexorably yet harvests worldwide are threatened by climate change. Currently the 30% of the two million hectares of winter wheat produced annually in the UK is grown on drought-prone soils. It is projected that by 2050 drought is likely to increase due to global warming and this will lead to increased evapo-transpiration (BBSRC, 2009). Water deficit (drought) has been defined by Cabuslay et al. (2002) as the absence of adequate moisture necessary for a plant to grow normally and complete its life cycle. This lack of adequate moisture for proper plant growth and development has been reported to be a major abiotic threat to rice production under rainfed ecosystems (Asch et al., 2005; Price et al., 2002). It has been reported to significantly reduce rice yields to an average of only 1.5 t ha-1 in the rainfed lowland ecosystem in South and Southeast Asia (Cabuslay et al., 2002).
Root characteristics such as root length density, root thickness, and rooting depth and distribution have been established as constituting factors of drought resistance, with deep rooting cultivars being more resistant to drought than the shallow rooted. For instance the authors reported that upland rice varieties especially O. glaberrima tend to perform better under drought than the extensively grown O. sativa because of their root characteristics (Asch et al., 2005). Thus root morphological characteristics significantly contribute to drought resistance in rice (Price et al., 2002; Azam-Ali and Squire, 2002). In spite of the numerous reports on water deficit and recent advances in molecular biology techniques, drought tolerance remains poorly understood in comparison with grain quality and disease resistance which are governed by major genes. This demonstrates the complexity of rainfed ecosystems exacerbated by unpredictable moisture supply (Cabuslay et al., 2002; Azam-Ali and Squire, 2002).
This study seeks to understand the different root morphological characteristics deployed by upland rice in comparison with lowland rice in order to circumnavigate the adverse effects of water deficit on its productivity. In addition, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of rice tolerance to water deficit is necessary for breeders to be able to identify heritable traits which will make plants adapt to growth conditions in rainfed areas (Cabuslay et al., 2002). Also information from this study about root distribution would be important for characterization and modelling of water and nutrient uptake, biomass, and yield (Buczko et al., 2009). Since root modifications during drought are a reflection of plant response to soil water and nutrient status (Price et al., 2002).
2.1 General objective
To evaluate the tolerance of selected upland and lowland rice varieties to water deficit (drought)
2.1.1 Specific objectives
To compare the total root dry matter and length (a) among the upland varieties, (b) among the lowland varieties and (c) between selected upland and lowland rice varieties.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
To determine whether plant water potential and soil moisture content are directly related in both upland and lowland varieties
The total root dry matter and length are higher in upland rice varieties than lowland rice varieties.
A higher total root dry matter and length in upland rice varieties is induced by drought conditions.
This difference (b) is more pronounced in upland varieties.
Soil moisture content causes a reduction in plant water potential.
3.0 MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1 Plant material
Irrigated upland and lowland rice cultivars will be used in this study, the seeds will be selected basing on their viability. The two upland rice cultivars to be used include: O. glaberrima and Moroberekan whilst the lowland cultivars are IR43 and IR72. All the seeds will be obtained from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. Before seeds are germinated, they will be thoroughly washed with distilled water to remove any seed dressing and then placed in damp petri dishes containing a filter paper. The seeds will be left for 10 days in the shade (growth room) to test for their viability and determine the germination percentage as well.
3.1.1 Description of the plant materials
It was developed at IRRI and released in the Philippines in 1978 with the aim of increasing multiple disease and insect resistance (Peng and Khush, 2003). It is resistant to rice blast and bacterial blight diseases and green leafhopper insects. The variety is also said to be suited to upland areas and tolerant to salinity and zinc and phosphorous deficiency (Khush and Virk, 2005).
It was released in the Philippines in 1988 with the aim of increasing multiple to disease and insect resistance (Peng and Khush, 2003). The variety is resistant to bacterial blight, Tungro and grassy stunt diseases and green leafhoppers and various strains of brown plant hopper. It is suited to irrigated and rainfed lowland areas and tolerant to iron toxicity and zinc deficiency (Khush and Virk, 2005).
Moroberekan is tropical upland japonica variety of long stature and is also said to be drought resistant and tolerant to saline soil conditions (Haq et al., 2009). It has its origin in West Africa and is considered to confer durable resistance to rice blast (Girish et al., 2006).
Oryza glaberrima (African rice) is native to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is thought to have been domesticated from the wild ancestor Oryza barthii by people living in the flood plains at the bend of the Niger River some 2,000-3,000 years ago. At the present time the cultivar is being replaced in West Africa by the Asian species (O. sativa). O. glaberrima plants have luxurious wide leaves that shade out weeds and the species is more resistant to diseases and pests. This African rice is said to be tolerant to fluctuations in water depth, iron toxicity, infertile soils, severe climates and human neglect. Some O. glaberrima types have been reported to mature faster than Asian types, making them an important emergency food (Linares, 2002).
3.2 Experimental set up
3.2.1 Experimental design
A complete randomised block design (RCBD) will be used in the study to avoid variability in the light intensity by blocking. The experiment will comprise of two treatments replicated four times; treatment one (V1, V2, V3 and V4) will be under a uniform water regime (soil field capacity) throughout the experiment. In treatment two (V1, V2, V3 and V4); the plants will be treated to a uniform water regime like in treatment one for 30 days after sowing (DAS) followed by 60 days of continuous drought.
Table 1: Experimental layout
3.2.2 Experimental setup
The glass house experiment will be set up at the University of Nottingham, School of Biosciences, Sutton Bonington Campus where the plants will be exposed to 12 hours of light and a temperature of 300C. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) columns of diameter 0.2m and a height of 0.6m containing 25kg of sterilised sandy loam soil in proportions of 25:75 will be used. The soil will be sterilised by fumigation using methyl bromide in order to kill soil-borne disease pathogens. The base of the columns will be sealed with heavy duty tape with a drainage hole at the bottom. In order to ensure a homogenous distribution of irrigation water in the soil column, the columns will be irrigated according to the treatment via a perforated silicon tube inserted in the soil diagonally over the entire soil length of the column. The soil moisture content will be monitored on a twice a week using a Theta Probe Soil Moisture Sensor-ML2x and any soil moisture losses due to evapo-transpiration replenished through irrigation. The soil field capacity, pH and nutrient status will be determined prior to planting and appropriate N-P-K fertilizer requirement added before sowing. The experiment will be terminated at 90 DAS and the following parameters measured.
Plant water potential
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Water movement within plants occurs along gradients of free energy which depend on the difference in plant water potential (sum of osmotic potential, matric potential and hydrostatic pressure). For plants to extract water their water potential should be less than the soil water potential (Azam-Ali and Squire, 2002). This will be measured twice a week for all the plants using the pressure chamber technique as described by Turner (1988).
Soil moisture content
There is an inverse relationship between the amount of water in the soil and the tenacity at which it is held. The soil moisture content measures the amount of water available in the soil (Azam-Ali and Squire, 2002). The soil moisture content with in the soil column will be monitored using a calibrated Theta Probe Soil Moisture Sensor-ML2x (Delta T Devices) inserted through the holes on the columns at 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6m depths and measurements taken twice a week for all the plants .
Total root length
This destructive sampling technique will be measured at the end of the experiment. Root samples will be taken at 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6m depths for all the plants hence a total of 96 samples. Roots will be washed using a hydro-pneumatic elutriation device (Gillison's Variety Fabrications, Benzonia, MI, USA). The equipment employs a high kinetic energy first stage in which water jets erode the soil from the roots followed by a second low-kinetic-energy flotation stage which deposits the roots on a submerged sieve. A digital image of the roots will be taken with a scanner (Hewlett Packard 3CX). The root length will be determined from the digital image using the Newman method based on the number of intercepts of randomly placed lines with roots spread over a surface (Asch et al., 2005). The total root length per unit area (mm-2) will be calculated by summing the root length.
Root total dry matter
This destructive sampling technique will also be measured at the end of the experiment using the root samples after determination of the total root length per unit area. The fresh weight of all the samples will be taken using a precision balance and then oven-dried to a constant weight at 700C. The total root dry matter will be calculated as the difference between the fresh and dry weights. Summing up the individual root dry weights per unit are will facilitate the obtaining of the total root dry matter per unit area (gm-2).
3.4 Data analysis
The analysis of variance will be used to determine the significance of the differences and interactions in the data obtained using statistical package GenStat Release 12.1 (VSN International, 2009. Differences will be considered significant at P< 0.05 and where differences are significant, least significant difference (LSD) multiple comparison test and t-test will be performed.