Seedling root architectural traits associated with yield in wheat

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.

Root phenotyping pipeline for the Forno × Oberkulmer mapping population grown in a growth chamber during 2014
Root phenotyping pipeline for the Forno × Oberkulmer mapping population grown in a growth chamber during 2014. (A) Germination paper-based ‘pouch and wick’ system. (B and C) Example root images of Forno and Oberkulmer, respectively (scale bar = 1 cm). (D) Measurement of root architectural traits on a recombinant inbred line.

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.

Reference

Xie, Q., Fernando, K. M. C., Mayes, S., & Sparkes, D. L. (2017). Identifying seedling root architectural traits associated with yield and yield components in wheat. Annals of Botany, 119(7), 1115–1129. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx001