U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version

November 1983




Environmental stress may have a differential influence on root development of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] isolines which vary in pubescence density. Root length density and root dry matter distribution as a function of depth and distance from the row were determined for two isolines of 'Harosoy' soybean in association with an experiment designed to evaluate the influence of epidermal pubescence on root development, water use, and photosynthetic characteristics of the two isolines. The isolines, Harosoy normal (HN) and Harosoy dense (HD), differed in the density of trichomes on the epidermal surfaces of leaves, stems, and pods. The study was conducted at the Univ. of Nebraska Field Laboratory at Mead, Nebr., during the 1980 growing season. Root samples were collected 47 (full bloom) and 78 (beginning seed) days after planting. Until the first sampling, soil water content was high at all depths, and roots were concentrated in the surface 0.15-111 layer, especially under the row. Eighty percent of the roots were found within the upper 0.30 m. By 78 days after planting and after 30 days of drought, root length density was greatest at the 0.90 to 1.20-m layer; 80% of the roots pared to were found within the 0 to 1.2-m layer; and uniform lateral distribution was observed. Harosoy dense pubescence isoline tended to have a greater root density, to explore deeper into the soil, and to extract more soil water during the drought than did the normal pubescence isoliie. However, the rate of water extraction (per unit root length) was greater for the HN isoline.