Broader leaves result in better performance of indica rice under drought stress

M. Farooq*, N. Kobayashi, O. Ito, A. Wahid, R. Serraj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Leaf growth is one of the first physiological processes affected by changes in plant water status under drought. A decrease in leaf expansion rate usually precedes any reduction in stomatal conductance or photosynthesis. Changes in leaf size and stomatal opening are potential adaptive mechanisms, which may help avoid drought by reducing transpiration rate, and can be used to improve rice genotypes in water-saving cultivation. The indica rice cultivar IR64 and four of its near-isogenic lines (NILs; BC3-derived lines) unique for leaf size traits, YTK 124 (long leaves), YTK 127 (broad leaves), YTK 205 (short leaves) and YTK 214 (narrow leaves), were compared in this study for changes in leaf growth and its water status. The plants were subjected to two soil water regimes, well-watered and progressive soil drying measured by the fraction of transpirable soil water (FTSW). Applied drought reduced leaf number, total leaf area, specific leaf area, plant biomass, tiller number, plant height, stomatal conductance, amount of water transpired, leaf relative water content, and leaf water potential more in IR64 and the NILs than in the respective controls; nonetheless, transpiration efficiency (TE) was slightly higher under drought than in the well-watered controls. NILs with broader leaves had higher biomass (and its individual components), less stomatal conductance, and higher TE under drought than NILs with narrow and shorter leaves. Under drought, leaf number was positively correlated with tiller number and plant height; nonetheless, root weight and total biomass, water transpired and TE, and plant height and TE were positively correlated with each other. However, a negative correlation was observed between stomatal conductance and the FTSW threshold at which normalized transpiration started to decline during soil drying. Overall, the IR64-derived lines with broader leaves performed better than NILs with narrow and short leaves under drought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1075
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Drought
  • Fraction of transpirable soil water
  • Leaf size
  • Rice
  • Transpiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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