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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 104 No. 2, p. 388-392
    Received: Sept 16, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): dennis.gitz@ars.usda.gov
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The Effect of Solar Loading on Soil Temperatures and Developmental Variation in Greenhouse Studies

  1. D. C. Gitz *a,
  2. Z. Xina,
  3. J. T. Bakerab,
  4. R. J. Lascanoa and
  5. J. J. Burkea
  1. a USDA-ARS, 3810 4th Street, Lubbock, TX 79415-3397
    b USDA-ARS, Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, Big Spring, TX 79720-0013


Water is the single most limiting factor of crop yield. A high throughput method of screening sorghum for transpiration efficiency (TE) might allow selection for plants able to maintain production in semiarid regions having few irrigation resources. A high throughput TE assay was characterized. We hypothesized that variation in solar radiation absorbed by containers could introduce soil temperature variation and influence measured TE. To test our hypothesis, two sorghum lines, Liang Tang Ai (High TE) and TX-7078 (Low TE), were grown in either conventional black plastic or in insulated containers and TE determined as biomass/water transpired. Soil temperatures in the sealed conventional thermoplastic containers exceeded 50°C and plants developed more slowly than those grown in insulated containers. Liang Tang Ai showed 30% greater TE as compared to TX-7078 when grown in insulated containers, but any potential TE differences were masked by supra-optimal temperatures in the conventional black plastic containers. Our results showed that the effects of solar radiation loading can lead to high soil temperatures and must be considered when designing TE screening experiments or other physiological studies.

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