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Publications

2021
Weksler, S. ; Rozenstein, O. ; Haish, N. ; Moshelion, M. ; Wallach, R. ; Ben-Dor, E. Pepper Plants Leaf Spectral Reflectance Changes as a Result of Root Rot Damage. REMOTE SENSING 2021, 13.Abstract
Symptoms of root stress are hard to detect using non-invasive tools. This study reveals proof of concept for vegetation indices' ability, usually used to sense canopy status, to detect root stress, and performance status. Pepper plants were grown under controlled greenhouse conditions under different potassium and salinity treatments. The plants' spectral reflectance was measured on the last day of the experiment when more than half of the plants were already naturally infected by root disease. Vegetation indices were calculated for testing the capability to distinguish between healthy and root-damaged plants using spectral measurements. While no visible symptoms were observed in the leaves, the vegetation indices and red-edge position showed clear differences between the healthy and the root-infected plants. These results were achieved after a growth period of 32 days, indicating the ability to monitor root damage at an early growing stage using leaf spectral reflectance.
Wang, Z. ; Wallach, R. Water infiltration into subcritical water-repellent soils with time-dependent contact angle. JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY 2021, 595.Abstract
Soil water repellency, defined as the situation in which the affinity of soils to water is reduced, has been reported for many natural and agricultural soils worldwide. Soil water repellency has significant impacts on hydrology and geomorphology. It has been widely observed that the contact angle (CA) of a sessile water drop placed on a single-layer surface of water-repellent soil particles decreases in an exponential manner with time. This time-dependent CA has a substantial effect on flow in water-repellent soils. However, mathematical models aimed at modeling water flow in water-repellent soils disregard the time-dependent CA's effect. The current study aims to correct this omission. Using capillary rise of water with a time-dependent CA in a capillary tube, a model for water infiltration into subcritical water-repellent soils (CA < 90 degrees) was developed. This model was successfully verified by performing infiltration experiments into (packed) coated glass beads. The CA at the wetting front during infiltration decreased exponentially to equilibrium, and the time to equilibrium was similar to that measured for a reference single layer of coated glass beads. Simulations for subcritical water-repellent soils with time-dependent CA yielded an infiltration rate that is either increasing with time (noted as concave) or initially increases and afterward decreases (noted as a concave-convex pattern).
Ogunmokun, F. A. ; Wallach, R. Remediating the Adverse Effects of Treated Wastewater Irrigation by Repeated On-Surface Surfactant Application. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH 2021, 57.Abstract
The use of treated wastewater (TWW) has gained recognition as an alternative source for freshwater irrigation, and is steadily expanding worldwide. Despite the benefits of freshwater conservation and nutrient richness, there is mounting evidence of TWW adverse effects on soil, yield, and the environment. Irrigation using TWW has resulted in soil water repellency, in which preferential flow pathways and uneven soil water and chemical distribution occur. These increase deep water percolation and chemical leaching, which can lead to soil and groundwater pollution. This study was conducted in a commercial citrus orchard grown on sandy-loam soil in central Israel and irrigated with TWW, with the aim of investigating the remediation of these adverse effects, by repeatedly spraying a nonionic surfactant on the soil surface. The surfactant application succeeded to turn the soil wettable, diminishing the preferential flow pathways, and rendering the soil water and dissolved chemicals uniformly distributed. The overall water content in the 0-40 cm layer increased, and deep percolation and chemical leaching substantially decreased. The grapefruit yield increase during the two-year study period increased the water use efficiency. Electrical resistance tomography scans executed during and after irrigation events for two subsequent years revealed that a ``soil memory'' phenomenon has been developed for water repellent soils, where water flow takes place through previously developed preferential flow pathways in such soils. This study demonstrates that recurrent surfactant application enables a continuous use of TWW, while eliminating most of its prejudicial effects.
Weksler, S. ; Rozenstein, O. ; Haish, N. ; Moshelion, M. ; Wallach, R. ; Ben-Dor, E. Detection of Potassium Deficiency and Momentary Transpiration Rate Estimation at Early Growth Stages Using Proximal Hyperspectral Imaging and Extreme Gradient Boosting. Sensors 2021, 21. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Potassium is a macro element in plants that is typically supplied to crops in excess throughout the season to avoid a deficit leading to reduced crop yield. Transpiration rate is a momentary physiological attribute that is indicative of soil water content, the plant’s water requirements, and abiotic stress factors. In this study, two systems were combined to create a hyperspectral–physiological plant database for classification of potassium treatments (low, medium, and high) and estimation of momentary transpiration rate from hyperspectral images. PlantArray 3.0 was used to control fertigation, log ambient conditions, and calculate transpiration rates. In addition, a semi-automated platform carrying a hyperspectral camera was triggered every hour to capture images of a large array of pepper plants. The combined attributes and spectral information on an hourly basis were used to classify plants into their given potassium treatments (average accuracy = 80%) and to estimate transpiration rate  
2020
Wang, Z. ; Wallach, R. Effects of Time-Dependent Contact Angle on Wettability of Subcritically Water-Repellent Soils. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH 2020, 56.Abstract
Recent studies have indicated that under certain conditions, most soils are water repellent to some degree, which impacts agricultural fields, pastures, forests, grasslands, and turf areas. Soil water repellency originates from amphiphilic molecules that reorient during contact with water. However, models to describe the flow in soils affected by time-dependent contact angle (CA(t)) are still lacking. The current study aims to close this gap. The measured CA(t) for an oleic acid-coated glass surface and a uniform capillary tube indicated that the initial CA was substantially higher for the latter. However, the rate of CA decrease was similar for both cases in spite of the fact that the contact area between the water and the tube wall continuously increases by the capillary rise. This indicates that the amphiphilic molecules reorientation at the vicinity of the contact line rather than at the wetted tube area controls the CA dynamics. A mathematical model for flow in a uniform and sinusoidal capillary tube with CA(t) < 90 degrees that includes model for the reorientation of the amphiphilic molecules was introduced. The model for uniform case was successfully verified by comparison with measured capillary rise in a coated uniform tube. The simulations indicated that nonuniform pore geometry amplifies the effect of CA(t) on the capillary rise dynamics. The stepwise meniscus propagation in the sinusoidal capillary tubes is driven by the time for the meniscus to reach the converging section of the tube. The retardation in capillary rise increases with tube waviness.
Brindt, N. ; Wallach, R. The Moving-Boundary Approach for Modeling 2-D Gravity-Driven Stable and Unstable Flow in Partially Wettable Soils. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH 2020, 56.Abstract
The moving-boundary approach, which has been successfully used to model stable and unstable 1-D flow in initially dry soils of various contact angles (Brindt & Wallach, 2017 ), was extended here for 2-D flow. The wetting front is the plume perimeter that is partly formed by the capillary driving force, the remaining part by the combined capillary and gravity driving forces. The moving-boundary approach overcomes the limitation of the Richards equation for describing gravity-driven unstable flow with nonmonotonic water-content distribution. According to this approach, the 2-D flow domain is divided into two subdomains with a sharp change in fluid saturation between them-the wetting front (moving boundary). The 2-D Richards equation was solved for the subdomain behind the wetting front for a given flux boundary condition at the soil surface, while the location of the other boundary, for which a no-flux condition is imposed, was part of the solution. The moving-boundary solution was used after verification to demonstrate the synergistic effect of contact angle and incoming flux on flow stability and its associated plume shapes. The contact angle that hinders spontaneous invasion of the dry pores decreases the water-entry capillary pressure, psi(we), while the flux-dependent dynamic water-entry value, psi(wed), is even lower, both inducing water accumulation behind the wetting front (saturation overshoot). This innovative physically based model for the 2-D unsaturated flow problem for an initially dry soil of zero and nonzero contact angle using the moving-boundary approach fulfills several criteria raised by researchers to adequately describe gravity-driven unstable flow.
Dalal, A. ; Shenhar, I. ; Bourstein, R. ; Mayo, A. ; Grunwald, Y. ; Averbuch, N. ; Attia, Z. ; Wallach, R. ; Moshelion, M. A Telemetric, Gravimetric Platform for Real-Time Physiological Phenotyping of Plant–Environment Interactions. 2020, e61280. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Food security for the growing global population is a major concern. The data provided by genomic tools far exceeds the supply of phenotypic data, creating a knowledge gap. To meet the challenge of improving crops to feed the growing global population, this gap must be bridged.Physiological traits are considered key functional traits in the context of responsiveness or sensitivity to environmental conditions. Many recently introduced high-throughput (HTP) phenotyping techniques are based on remote sensing or imaging and are capable of directly measuring morphological traits, but measure physiological parameters mainly indirectly. This paper describes a method for direct physiological phenotyping that has several advantages for the functional phenotyping of plant–environment interactions. It helps users overcome the many challenges encountered in the use of load-cell gravimetric systems and pot experiments. The suggested techniques will enable users to distinguish between soil weight, plant weight and soil water content, providing a method for the continuous and simultaneous measurement of dynamic soil, plant and atmosphere conditions, alongside the measurement of key physiological traits. This method allows researchers to closely mimic field stress scenarios while taking into consideration the environment’s effects on the plants’ physiology. This method also minimizes pot effects, which are one of the major problems in pre-field phenotyping. It includes a feed-back fertigation system that enables a truly randomized experimental design at a field-like plant density. This system detects the soil-water-content limiting threshold (θ) and allows for the translation of data into knowledge through the use of a real-time analytic tool and an online statistical resource. This method for the rapid and direct measurement of the physiological responses of multiple plants to a dynamic environment has great potential for use in screening for beneficial traits associated with responses to abiotic stress, in the context of pre-field breeding and crop improvement.
Ogunmokun, F. A. ; Liu, Z. ; Wallach, R. The influence of surfactant-application method on the effectiveness of water-repellent soil remediation. Geoderma 2020, 362. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Soil water repellency (SWR) has a substantial effect on soil–water hydrology: it hinders infiltration, leading to enhanced surface runoff and soil erosion, and causes preferential flow in the soil profile beyond that from the soil's natural heterogeneity. SWR is associated with soil organic matter content, the latter added to the soil by vegetation exudates, litter and residues, forest fires, and replacement of fresh water by treated wastewater for irrigation. Surfactants are surface-active substances composed of organic molecules with hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic heads that can reduce the surface tension (γ) of the aqueous solution, thereby reducing SWR, via adsorption to soil particles. Surfactants are commonly used to remediate water-repellent soils. We investigated the role of two surfactant-application methods on the efficacy of SWR remediation. Aqueous solutions of two commercial surfactants had a substantial effect on parameters used to characterize the persistence and severity of SWR. However, the efficacy of these surfactants in remediating sandy soils rendered water-repellent by irrigation with treated effluent was substantially affected by their application method. Whereas application of aqueous surfactant solution to the surface of water-repellent soil, the commonly used remediation method, formed finger-like plumes similar to those obtained for water application, bulbous-like plumes were formed when the soil was premixed with the aqueous surfactant solution prior to water application. These differences were attributed to the significant role of the rate-limited surfactant adsorption to the soil particles. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
2019
Dalal, A. ; Bourstein, R. ; Haish, N. ; Shenhar, I. ; Wallach, R. ; Moshelion, M. Dynamic physiological phenotyping of drought-stressed pepper plants treated with “productivity-enhancing” and “survivability-enhancing” biostimulants. Frontiers in Plant Science 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The improvement of crop productivity under abiotic stress is one of the biggest challenges faced by the agricultural scientific community. Despite extensive research, the research-to-commercial transfer rate of abiotic stress-resistant crops remains very low. This is mainly due to the complexity of genotype × environment interactions and in particular, the ability to quantify the dynamic plant physiological response profile to a dynamic environment. Most existing phenotyping facilities collect information using robotics and automated image acquisition and analysis. However, their ability to directly measure the physiological properties of the whole plant is limited. We demonstrate a high-throughput functional phenotyping system (HFPS) that enables comparing plants’ dynamic responses to different ambient conditions in dynamic environments due to its direct and simultaneous measurement of yield-related physiological traits of plants under several treatments. The system is designed as one-to-one (1:1) plant–[sensors+controller] units, i.e., each individual plant has its own personalized sensor, controller and irrigation valves that enable (i) monitoring water-relation kinetics of each plant–environment response throughout the plant’s life cycle with high spatiotemporal resolution, (ii) a truly randomized experimental design due to multiple independent treatment scenarios for every plant, and (iii) reduction of artificial ambient perturbations due to the immobility of the plants or other objects. In addition, we propose two new resilience-quantifying-related traits that can also be phenotyped using the HFPS: transpiration recovery rate and night water reabsorption. We use the HFPS to screen the effects of two commercial biostimulants (a seaweed extract –ICL-SW, and a metabolite formula – ICL-NewFo1) on Capsicum annuum under different irrigation regimes. Biostimulants are considered an alternative approach to improving crop productivity. However, their complex mode of action necessitates cost-effective pre-field phenotyping. The combination of two types of treatment (biostimulants and drought) enabled us to evaluate the precision and resolution of the system in investigating the effect of biostimulants on drought tolerance. We analyze and discuss plant behavior at different stages, and assess the penalty and trade-off between productivity and resilience. In this test case, we suggest a protocol for the screening of biostimulants’ physiological mechanisms of action. © 2019 Dalal, Bourstein, Haish, Shenhar, Wallach and Moshelion.
Wallach, R. Chapter 3 - Physical Characteristics of Soilless Media. In Soilless Culture (Second Edition); Raviv, M. ; Lieth, J. H. ; Bar-Tal, A., Ed. Soilless Culture (Second Edition); Elsevier: Boston, 2019; pp. 33 - 112. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Similar to soils, soilless media are composed of three phases: solid, aqueous, and gaseous. The substantial differences between the former and the latter are related to the solid phase composition and associated texture and structure. While the solid phase of soils is mostly minerals, it is a mixture of minerals and organic matter for soilless culture, resulting in substantial differences in their physical and hydraulic properties. The physical and hydraulic properties of soil have been intensively studied, both experimentally and theoretically, the application and implementation of these knowledge and methods to soilless substrates is limited. This chapter aims to close the gaps in physics and hydraulic characterization and application between mineral soils and soilless media by applying terminology, methods, and approaches that are commonly used for the former to the latter. The current version of this Chapter extents the topic of particle wettability and its effect on the physical properties of soilless media. Although research on sales-media wettability and its effect on water retention and flow in the media has only recently initiated, its relevance is essential owing to the high organic matter content of these media and the relationship between the two.
Leuther, F. ; Schlüter, S. ; Wallach, R. ; Vogel, H. - J. Structure and hydraulic properties in soils under long-term irrigation with treated wastewater. Geoderma 2019, 333, 90 - 98. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Secondary treated wastewater, a commonly used water resource in agriculture in (semi-)arid areas, often contains salts, sodium, and organic matter which may affect soil structure and hydraulic properties. The main objective of this study was to jointly analyse the effects of long-term irrigation with treated wastewater on physicochemical soil characteristics, soil structure, and soil water dynamics in undisturbed soils. X-ray microtomography was used to determine changes in macro-porosity (> 19 μm), pore size distribution, and pore connectivity of a sandy clay loam and a loamy sand. Differences in the pore network among soils irrigated with treated wastewater, fresh water that replaced treated wastewater, and non-irrigated control plots could be explained by changes in textural composition, soil physicochemical parameters, and hydraulic properties. In this study we showed that irrigation led to the development of a connected macro-pore network, independent of the studied water quality. The leaching of silt and clay particles in the sandy soil due to treated wastewater irrigation resulted in an increase of pores < 130 μm. While this change in texture reduced water retention, the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity was diminished by physicochemical alteration, i.e. induced water repellency and clay mineral swelling. Overall, the fine textured sandy clay loam was much more resistant to soil alteration by treated wastewater irrigation than the loamy sand.
Liu, Z. ; Rahav, M. ; Wallach, R. Spatial variation of soil water repellency in a commercial orchard irrigated with treated wastewater. Geoderma 2019, 333, 214 - 224. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The recognition of treated wastewater (TWW) as an alternative water resource is expanding in areas with a shortage of freshwater (FW). While many studies have been devoted to the effects of long-term irrigation with TWW on soil wettability and spatial flow variations in the soil profile, much less attention has been given to the spatial distribution of soil water repellency in the soil surface layer. This is the objective of the current study. Undisturbed soil samples (5 cm thick) were taken at 15-cm intervals parallel to a drip lateral in two adjacent plots of a commercial citrus orchard in central Israel. Each soil sample was sectioned into five consecutive 1-cm layers for which soil water repellency was determined by water drop penetration time method, and soil organic matter by loss-on-ignition method. Geostatistics and multivariate empirical mode decomposition were used to investigate the overall and scale-specific spatial variation of soil water repellency and its dependence on dripper intervals along the lateral. A high degree of soil water repellency with strong spatial variation was found in the surface soil after 4–6 years of TWW irrigation. Weak to moderate spatial dependence of soil water repellency with maximum autocorrelation distance of around 30 cm was discovered by geostatistical analysis. The spatial distribution of soil water repellency was considered to be greatly affected by the location of the drippers, being higher between adjacent drippers and lower underneath them. This soil water repellency distribution is presumed to result from ongoing lateral displacement of the amphiphilic substances in the TWW toward the outer edge of the wetted plume periphery. Multivariate empirical mode decomposition of the overall spatial variation of soil water repellency yielded three scale-specific variations with corresponding characteristic scales of 30 cm, 110 cm and 200 cm. Most of the soil water repellency variation was separated into the 30 cm and 110 cm spatial scales, which were correlated to processes related to the drippers and trees. Replacing TWW with FW for the reclamation of water-repellent soils partially alleviated the intensity of TWW irrigation-induced soil water repellency. Moreover, an inconsistency between the hot spots of water-repellency development between adjacent drippers and the areas that are effectively ameliorated by FW irrigation below the drippers could be developed and affect the spatial distribution of flow pattern in an a priori unpredictable way.
Dalal, A. ; Bourstein, R. ; Haish, N. ; Shenhar, I. ; Wallach, R. ; Moshelion, M. A High-Throughput Physiological Functional Phenotyping System for Time- and Cost-Effective Screening of Potential Biostimulants. bioRxiv 2019, 525592. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The improvement of crop productivity under abiotic stress is one of the biggest challenges faced by the agricultural scientific community. Despite extensive research, the research-to-commercial transfer rate of abiotic stress-resistant crops remains very low. This is mainly due to the complexity of genotype◻×◻environment interactions and in particular, the ability to quantify the dynamic plant physiological response profile to a dynamic environment.Most existing phenotyping facilities collect information using robotics and automated image acquisition and analysis. However, their ability to directly measure the physiological properties of the whole plant is limited. We demonstrate a high-throughput functional phenotyping system (HFPS) that enables comparing plants’ dynamic responses to different ambient conditions in dynamic environments due to its direct and simultaneous measurement of yield-related physiological traits of plants under several treatments. The system is designed as one-to-one (1:1) plant–[sensors+controller] units, i.e., each individual plant has its own personalized sensor, controller and irrigation valves that enable (i) monitoring water-relation kinetics of each plant–environment response throughout the plant’s life cycle with high spatiotemporal resolution, (ii) a truly randomized experimental design due to multiple independent treatment scenarios for every plant, and (iii) reduction of artificial ambient perturbations due to the immobility of the plants or other objects. In addition, we propose two new resilience-quantifying-related traits that can also be phenotyped using the HFPS: transpiration recovery rate and night water reabsorption.We use the HFPS to screen the effects of two commercial biostimulants (a seaweed extract—ICL-SW, and a metabolite formula—ICL-NewFo1) on Capsicum annuum under different irrigation regimes. Biostimulants are considered an alternative approach to improving crop productivity. However, their complex mode of action necessitates cost-effective pre-field phenotyping. The combination of two types of treatment (biostimulants and drought) enabled us to evaluate the precision and resolution of the system in investigating the effect of biostimulants on drought tolerance. We analyze and discuss plant behavior at different stages, and assess the penalty and trade-off between productivity and survivability. In this test case, we suggest a protocol for the screening of biostimulants’ physiological mechanisms of action.
Brindt, N. ; Rahav, M. ; Wallach, R. ERT and salinity – A method to determine whether ERT-detected preferential pathways in brackish water-irrigated soils are water-induced or an artifact of salinity. Journal of Hydrology 2019, 574, 35 - 45. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The identification of preferential flow generation and the tracking of their pathways in agricultural soils are challenging tasks, in particular while keeping the soil profile undisturbed. The noninvasive electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) method seems, a priori, to be an ideal tool for these purposes, but the simultaneous dependence of soil electrical resistivity (ER) on soil moisture content and salt concentration poses a problem when high-salinity water is involved. The dependence of these variables is expressed, for example, by Archie’s law. Irrigation with brackish or treated wastewater are two such complicated cases. The latter has been found to render soils water-repellent with inherent flow in preferential pathways. A method that resolves this complication is developed and applied for in-situ-measured ERT data. This method combines a model that simulates the preferential ER(t) as a series of interconnected well-mixed units (WMUs) with frequent ERT scans during soil wetting and subsequent drying. Following validation by comparison of its output to simulations using the Richards equation for flow and convection-dispersion equation for transport, the WMU model was used to simulate scenarios of simultaneous variations in moisture content, salinity, and ER(t) in a well-mixed soil volume (unit). The characteristic patterns acquired by these simulations were compared with in-situ measured ER(z,t) to determine whether the observed preferential ER pathways coincide with preferential flow or salinity pathways, or both. From the eight sections in the profile where this analysis was made for, five exhibit preferential flow, characterized by fast wetting front propagation that includes by-passing of a certain soil volume, while the wetting front velocity in the other three was moderate. We, therefore, concluded, based on the water content/salinity effect on ER, that the measured preferential ER pathways coincide with preferential flow pathways. Salinity has, for the current case, a minor, if any, effect on the ER spatial variation. Therefore, ERT is an advantageous mean of mapping of preferential flow pathways in the soil profile, and the method developed herein can be used for studying the water distribution in the soil profile. Particular irrigation design and management can be then used to ease the negative effects of preferential flow pathways on soil water availability to plant roots and the enhanced leaching of agrochemical below the active root zone.
2018
Brindt, N. ; Wallach, R. Modeling gravity-driven fingering by using the moving boundary approach. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts; EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts; 2018; Vol. 20, pp. 4729.
Leuther, F. ; Weller, U. ; Wallach, R. ; Vogel, H. - J. Quantitative analysis of wetting front instabilities in soil caused by treated waste water irrigation. Geoderma 2018, 319, 132 - 141. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Irrigation with treated waste water (TWW) is a common practice in agriculture, mainly in arid and semiarid areas as it provides a sustainable water resource available at all-season in general and at freshwater shortage in particular. However, TWW still contains abundant organic material which is known to decrease soil wettability, which in turn may promote flow instabilities that lead to the formation of preferential flow paths. We investigate the impact of long-term TWW irrigation on water wettability and infiltration into undisturbed soil cores from two commercially used orchards in Israel. Changes of water content during infiltration were quantitatively analysed by X-ray radiography. One orchard (sandy clay loam) had been irrigated with TWW for more than thirty years. In the other orchard (loamy sand) irrigation had been changed from freshwater to TWW in 2008 and switched back in some experimental plots to freshwater in 2012. Undisturbed soil cores were taken at the end of the dry and the rainy season to investigate the seasonal effect on water repellency and on infiltration dynamics in the laboratory. The irrigation experiments were done on field moist samples. A test series with different initial water contents was run to detect the influence on water movement at different wettabilities. In this study we show that the infiltration front stability is dependent on the history of waste water irrigation at the respective site and on the initial water content.
Galkin, E. ; Dalal, A. ; Evenko, A. ; Fridman, E. ; Kan, I. ; Wallach, R. ; Moshelion, M. Risk-management strategies and transpiration rates of wild barley in uncertain environments. Physiologia Plantarum 2018, 164, 412 - 428. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Regulation of the rate of transpiration is an important part of plants' adaptation to uncertain environments. Stomatal closure is the most common response to severe drought. By closing their stomata, plants reduce transpiration to better their odds of survival under dry conditions. Under mild to moderate drought conditions, there are several possible transpiration patterns that balance the risk of lost productivity with the risk of water loss. Here, we hypothesize that plant ecotypes that have evolved in environments characterized by unstable patterns of precipitation will display a wider range of patterns of transpiration regulation along with other quantitative physiological traits (QPTs), compared to ecotypes from less variable environments. We examined five accessions of wild barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum) from different locations in Israel (the B1K collection) with annual rainfall levels ranging from 100 to 900?mm, along with one domesticated line (cv. Morex). We measured several QPTs and morphological traits of these accessions under well-irrigated conditions, under drought stress and during recovery from drought. Our results revealed a correlation between precipitation-certainty conditions and QPT plasticity. Specifically, accessions from stable environments (very wet or very dry locations) were found to take greater risks in their water-balance regulation than accessions from areas in which rainfall is less predictable. Notably, less risk-taking genotypes recovered more quickly than more risk-taking ones once irrigation was resumed. We discuss the relationships between environment, polymorphism, physiological plasticity and fitness, and suggest a general risk-taking model in which transpiration-rate plasticity is negatively correlated with population polymorphism.
2017
Brindt, N. ; Wallach, R. The moving-boundary approach for modeling gravity-driven stable and unstable flow in soils. Water Resources Research 2017, 53, 344-360. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The Richards equation is unsuccessful at describing gravity-driven unstable flow with nonmonotonic water content distribution. This shortcoming is resolved in the current study by introducing the moving-boundary approach. Following this approach, the flow domain is divided into two subdomains with a sharp change in fluid saturation between them (moving boundary). The upper subdomain consists of water and air, whose relationship varies with space and time following the imposed boundary condition at the soil surface calculated by the Richards equation. The lower subdomain consists of an initially dry soil that remains constant. The location of the boundary between the two subdomains is part of the solution, rendering the problem nonlinear. The moving boundary solution was used after verification to demonstrate the effect of contact angle, soil characteristic curves and incoming flux on the dynamic water-entry pressure of the soil, which depends on the soil's wettability, incoming flux at the soil surface and the wetting front's propagation rate. Lower soil wettability hinders spontaneous invasion of the dry pores and, together with a higher input flux, induces water accumulation behind the wetting front (saturation overshoot). The wetting front starts to propagate once the pressure building up behind it exceeds the dynamic water-entry pressure. To conclude, the physically based novel moving-boundary approach for solving stable and gravity-driven unstable flow in soils was developed and verified. It supports the conjecture that saturation overshoot is a prerequisite for gravity-driven fingering.
Halperin, O. ; Gebremedhin, A. ; Wallach, R. ; Moshelion, M. High-throughput physiological phenotyping and screening system for the characterization of plant-environment interactions. Plant J 2017, 89, 839-850.Abstract
We present a simple and effective high-throughput experimental platform for simultaneous and continuous monitoring of water relations in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum of numerous plants under dynamic environmental conditions. This system provides a simultaneously measured, detailed physiological response profile for each plant in the array, over time periods ranging from a few minutes to the entire growing season, under normal, stress and recovery conditions and at any phenological stage. Three probes for each pot in the array and a specially designed algorithm enable detailed water-relations characterization of whole-plant transpiration, biomass gain, stomatal conductance and root flux. They also enable quantitative calculation of the whole plant water-use efficiency and relative water content at high resolution under dynamic soil and atmospheric conditions. The system has no moving parts and can fit into many growing environments. A screening of 65 introgression lines of a wild tomato species (Solanum pennellii) crossed with cultivated tomato (S. lycopersicum), using our system and conventional gas-exchange tools, confirmed the accuracy of the system as well as its diagnostic capabilities. The use of this high-throughput diagnostic screening method is discussed in light of the gaps in our understanding of the genetic regulation of whole-plant performance, particularly under abiotic stress.
Rahav, M. ; Brindt, N. ; Yermiyahu, U. ; Wallach, R. Induced heterogeneity of soil water content and chemical properties by treated wastewater irrigation and its reclamation by freshwater irrigation. Water Resources Research 2017, 53, 4756-4774. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The recognition of treated wastewater (TWW) as an alternative water resource is expanding in areas with a shortage of freshwater (FW) resources. Today, most orchards in Israel are irrigated with TWW. While the benefits of using TWW for irrigation are apparent, evidence of its negative effects on soil, trees, and yield is accumulating. This study, performed in a commercial TWW-irrigated citrus orchard in central Israel, examined the effects of (1) soil-wettability decrease due to prolonged TWW irrigation on the spatial and temporal distribution of water content and associated chemical properties in the root zone; (2) the conversion of irrigation in half of the TWW-irrigated research plot to FW (2012) for soil reclamation. Electrical resistivity tomography surveys in the substantially water repellent soils revealed that water flow is occurring along preferential flow paths in both plots, leaving behind a considerably nonuniform water-content distribution. This was despite the gradual relief in soil water repellency measured in the FW plots. Four soil-sampling campaigns (spring and fall, 2014–2016), performed in 0–20 and 20–40 cm layers of the research plot, revealed bimodal gravimetrically measured water-content distribution. The preferential flow led to uneven chemical-property distribution, with substantially high concentrations in the dry spots, and lower concentrations in the wet spots along the preferential flow paths. The average salt and nutrient concentrations, which were initially high in both plots, gradually dispersed with time, as concentrations in the FW plots decreased. Nevertheless, the efficiency of reclaiming TWW soil by FW irrigation appears low.