Characterisation of root architectural responses of mungbean to water deficit

M Dodt1, Y Chauhan2, R Williams2, B Williams2 and S Mundree1

  1. Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities QUT
  2. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Research into making agricultural systems more water efficient is gaining attention in recent years as the majority of climate change scenarios paint a deteriorating picture of fresh water availability. Agriculture accounts for in-excess of 70% of the worlds’ freshwater usage and this figure is set to increase by another ~19% by 2050. Lack of freshwater availability has been described as the single biggest problem in meeting the ever-increasing global food requirement. Other abiotic stresses leading to crop losses include salinity, temperature, and chemical toxicity. However, of these, drought and salinity (often occurring in conjunction) are the most costly. Vigna radiata (mungbean) is one of the most important pulse crops in the world. They are one of the most economical sources of protein (24%); contain high levels of dietary fibre, essential amino acids including methionine and lysine, vitamins, minerals and only a small amount of oil. Mungbean has been commercially grown in Australia since the late 1960s and 1970s and it is believed annual production could see drastic increases if we are able to improve abiotic stress tolerance – particularly drought. The present study investigates physiological and morphological responses of differentially drought tolerant varieties of mungbean under regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) at the Queensland Crop Development Facility. Seed pre-treatment with a novel chemical referred to as ATW1124 was investigated as a putative enhancer of root systems architecture for the improvement of adaptability to water limiting conditions. Another pillar of the study was in simulating the effects of ATW1124 on mungbean in APSIM to determine potential impacts on production. Finally, RNA-Seq transcriptome analysis will reveal molecular mechanisms underpinning these responses.