The use of fossil fuel is predicted to cause an increase of the atmospheric CO2 concentration, which will affect the global pattern of temperature and precipitation. It is therefore essential to incorporate effects of temperature and water supply on carbon partitioning of plants to predict effects of elevated [CO2] on growth and yield of Triticum aestivum. Although earlier papers have emphasized that elevated [CO2] favours investment of biomass in roots relative to that in leaves, it has now become clear that these are indirect effects, due to the more rapid depletion of nutrients in the root environment as a consequence of enhanced growth. Broadly generalized, the effect of temperature on biomass allocation in the vegetative stage is that the relative investment of biomass in roots is lowest at a certain optimum temperature and increases at both higher and lower temperatures. This is found not only when the temperature of the entire plant is varied, but also when only root temperature is changed whilst shoot temperature is kept constant. Effects of temperature on the allocation pattern can be explained largely by the effect of root temperature on the roots' capacity to transport water. Effects of a shortage in water supply on carbon partitioning are unambiguous: roots receive relatively more carbon. The pattern of biomass allocation in the vegetative stage and variation in water‐use efficiency are prime factors determining a plant's potential for early growth and yield in different environments. In a comparison of a range of T. aestivum cultivars, a high water‐use efficiency at the plant level correlates positively with a large investment in both leaf and root biomass, a low stomatal conductance and a large investment in photosynthetic capacity. We also present evidence that a lower investment of biomass in roots is not only associated with lower respiratory costs for root growth, but also with lower specific costs for ion uptake. We suggest the combination of a number of traits in future wheat cultivars, i.e. a high investment of biomass in leaves, which have a low stomatal conductance and a high photosynthetic capacity, and a low investment of biomass in roots, which have low respiratory costs. Such cultivars are considered highly appropriate in a future world, especially in the dryer regions. Although variation for the desired traits already exists among wheat cultivars, it is much larger among wild Aegilops species, which can readily be crossed with T. aestivum. Such wild relatives may be exploited to develop new wheat cultivars well‐adapted to changed climatic conditions.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Global Change Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 1995|