The long delayed maturation of the late metaxylem of maize (Zea mays) roots imposes a high‐resistance barrier between the immature apices and the negative water potential of the leaves. These apices (20+ cm) bear strongly adhering soil sheaths to within 0.5 to 2 cm of the distal end. It was hypothesized that the sheathed immature apices should show less response to transpiration stress than bare regions. Measurements were made of the relative water content (RWC) of the sheathed and bare zones of the axile roots, both at different ages of the plant, and early and late in the day's transpiration. Sheathed roots maintained a steady RWC of about 83% irrespective of age or transpiration. Bare roots had RWCs of about 63% in the morning, but this fell to 55% in the afternoon. The first‐order branches on the bare roots in the morning had still lower values of RWC, near 50%. Plots of RWC against water potential were indistinguishable for the three root types. It is concluded that the immature apices are indeed relatively isolated from the fluctuating tensions in the stem xylem, and that these tensions reduce the water content of bare roots and their branches to low values. Copyright

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Keywords Branch roots, maize, relative water content, roots, soil moisture, water potential, water uptake, xylem tension, Zea mays
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Journal Physiologia Plantarum
Wang, X.‐L., Canny, M.J., & McCully, M.E. (1991). The water status of the roots of soil‐grown maize in relation to the maturity of their xylem. Physiologia Plantarum, 82(2), 157–162. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3054.1991.tb00075.x