Drought Tolerance in Plants

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A dry season can put stress on plants. The ability of a plant to survive a drought rely on many factors, but the primary factor among them is its root system.  Plant roots play critical roles in the survival of plants. One of the most important function is the absorption of water and nutrients from the soil. Plant have various root systems, but the two main ones are taproot and fibrous root system (Böhm 3).  The taproot system grows vertically and reaches the deeper surfaces of the ground. The fibrous root system, on the other hand, has branching roots that are located close to the soil surface. While all root systems are designed to play basically the same functions, some root systems are more adept at serving these functions than others (Böhm 23).

            Plants ability to make use of limited water resources during dry seasons is key. While other plants can survive a drought for so many months, others will wilt under water stress in a matter of weeks or even days. In the case of carrot and wheat growing in the same garden during a dry summer, the carrot has an advantage over the wheat and stands a high chance of surviving the drought. The primary reason behind the carrot's advantage is its root system.  The taproot system has a tendency to grow deep into the soil helping plants like the carrot to absorb water or moisture that is located in the deeper soil layers. Thus, the carrot has a higher drought tolerance levels compared to wheat which has a fibrous root system. The branching fibrous roots in wheat cover a large surface area compared to the taproot. However, these roots are only effective during the wet spells when water is abundant (Benjamin and Wren 2).

            The taproot system in carrot is also modified for storing food. The food reserves can be relied upon when conditions are not favorable, particularly during the dry season. When it comes to a dry season, plants with tap root system like carrots are better equipped to survive.


Böhm, Wolfgang. Methods of studying root systems. Vol. 33. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

Benjamin, L. R., and M. J. Wren. "Root Development and Source-Sink Relations in Carrot, Daucus carota L." Journal of Experimental Botany 29.2 (1978): 425-433.

August 09, 2023



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