Roots, the ‘hidden half’ of plants, are notoriously difficult to phenotype. Xie et al. utilise a ‘pouch and wick’ high-throughput phenotyping pipeline to quantify the variation in seedling root system architecture of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) × spelt (Triticum spelta) recombinant inbred line population.
Seminal root number and total root length are both positively associated with grain number, above-ground biomass and grain yield at maturity in field, likely resulting from tightly linked genes or pleiotropy. Vigorous early root growth is correlated with improved yield potential. These results have significant implications for wheat breeding.