Electrical characterization of the root system: a noninvasive approach to study plant stress responses

Imre Cseresnyés, Tünde Takács, Bettina Sepovics, Ramóna Kovács, Anna Füzy, István Parádi, K. Rajkai

Research output: Article

2 Citations (Scopus)


A pot experiment was designed to demonstrate that the parallel, single-frequency detection of electrical capacitance (CR), impedance phase angle (ΦR), and electrical conductance (GR) in root–substrate systems was an adequate method for monitoring root growth and some aspects of stress response in situ. The wheat cultivars ‘Hombar’ and ‘TC33’ were grown in a rhyolite-vermiculite mixture under control, and low, medium, and high alkaline (Na2CO3) conditions with regular measurement of electrical parameters. The photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) and SPAD chlorophyll content were recorded non-intrusively; the green leaf area (GLA), shoot dry mass (SDM), root dry mass (RDM), and root membrane stability index (MSI) were determined after harvest. CR progressively decreased with increasing alkalinity due to impeded root growth. Strong linear CR–RDM relationships (R2 = 0.883–0.940) were obtained for the cultivars. Stress reduced |ΦR|, presumably due to the altered membrane properties and anatomy of the roots, including primarily enhanced lignification. GR was not reduced by alkalinity, implying the increasing symplastic conductivity caused by the higher electrolyte leakage indicated by decreasing root MSI. Fv/Fm, SPAD value, GLA, and SDM showed decreasing trends with increasing alkalinity. Cultivar ‘TC33’ was comparatively sensitive to high alkalinity, as shown by the greater relative decrease in CR, SDM, and RDM under stress, and by the significantly lower MSI and higher (moderately reduced) |ΦR| compared to the values obtained for ‘Hombar’. Electrical root characterization proved to be an efficient non-intrusive technique for studying root growth and stress responses, and for assessing plant stress tolerance in pot experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number169
JournalActa Physiologiae Plantarum
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - okt. 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Electrical characterization of the root system: a noninvasive approach to study plant stress responses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this