Aluminum (Al) toxicity in acidic soils is a major problem in rice crop production, especially in the acid sulfate soil (pH < 4.0). Selecting Al-tolerant varieties of rice with low toxicity is one of the most appropriate strategies to overcome this problem. In the present study, we investigated the Al content in different rice genotypes, IR64 (high yielding), RD35 (local acidic-tolerant), and Azucena (AZU, positive-check Al-tolerant), and their physiological and morphological adaptations under a wide range Al (10, 25, 50 mM [Al2(SO4)3]) treatments in the greenhouse conditions. Under 50-mM Al treatment, Al levels in the root tissues of rice seedlings cvs. AZU and IR64 were increased by 2.74- and 2.10-fold over control. Interestingly, Al contents in the roots of cv. RD35 were also exhibited by 2.04-fold over control. Similarly, Al contents in the leaves trend to increase in relation to a degree of Al treatments, leading to increase leaf temperature, chlorophyll degradation, limited CO2 assimilation, and negative effect on root traits under 50 mM Al were evidently observed. Therefore, leaf temperature was considered a sensitive parameter regulated by high concentration of Al (50 mM), leading to increase in crop water stress index (CWSI > 0.6) and decrease in stomata conductance. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and transpiration rate (E) in rice seedlings of cv. RD35 subjected to 50 mM Al were significantly dropped by 74.76% and 47.71% over the control, respectively, resulting in reduced growth performances in terms of root length (26.57% reduction) and shoot fresh weight (46.15% reduction). An enrichment of Al in the root tissues without toxicity in rice cv. AZU may further help in discovering the Al homeostasis. In summary, Al enrichment in rice genotypes grown under Al-treatments was evidently observed in the root, leading to the limited root growth, root length, and root dry weight, especially in cv. RD35. Al restriction in the root tissues of cv. AZU (Al-tolerant) may play a key role as defense mechanisms to avoid translocation to other organs and the stomata closure was an alternative key factor to limit H2O transpiration.
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