Seedling root traits correlate with yield in Brassica napus

Aiming to discover an optimum, cost-effective technique which can be applied to the selection of root traits for crop improvement, Thomas et al. screen seedling root traits of elite oilseed rape (OSR; Brassica napus) varieties in a low-cost, high-throughput root phenotyping (HTP) system. The same canola varieties were grown to maturity according to conventional practices, at two UK field sites each year for three years.

The experimental power (z-axis, legend inset in percentage units) to detect percentage differences in trait means between varieties (y-axis) as a function of the number of replicates (x-axis).
The experimental power (z-axis, legend inset in percentage units) to detect percentage differences in trait means between varieties (y-axis) as a function of the number of replicates (x-axis). (A, B, C) HTP system. (D, E, F) Field data from Bingham 2012–13.

Seedling primary root length (PRL) in the HTP system is shown to correlate with seed yield, early shoot vigour and emergence in most of the field experiments. Some associations between lateral root density (LRD) and nutrient uptake relating to calcium and zinc concentrations in the leaves can be observed and the authors conclude that it may be possible to use HTP systems to screen for beneficial root traits in more genetically diverse, non-field-adapted OSR.

Root Biology Issue This paper is part of the Root Biology Special Issue.

Reference List

C. L. Thomas, N. S. Graham, R. Hayden, M. C. Meacham, K. Neugebauer, M. Nightingale, L. X. Dupuy, J. P. Hammond, P. J. White, M. R. Broadley, 2016, 'High-throughput phenotyping (HTP) identifies seedling root traits linked to variation in seed yield and nutrient capture in field-grown oilseed rape (Brassica napusL.)', Annals of Botany, vol. 118, no. 4, pp. 655-665 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw046