Interactions among rooting traits for deep water and nitrogen uptake in upland and lowland ecotypes of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.).
ABSTRACT: The response of plant growth and development to nutrient and water availability is an important adaptation for abiotic stress tolerance. Roots need to intercept both passing nutrients and water while foraging into new soil layers for further resources. Substantial amounts of nitrate can be lost in the field when leaching into groundwater, yet very little is known about how deep rooting affects this process. Here, we phenotyped root system traits and deep 15N nitrate capture across 1.5 m vertical profiles of solid media using tall mesocosms in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a promising cellulosic bioenergy feedstock. Root and shoot biomass traits, photosynthesis and respiration measures, and nutrient uptake and accumulation traits were quantified in response to a water and nitrate stress factorial experiment for switchgrass upland (VS16) and lowland (AP13) ecotypes. The two switchgrass ecotypes shared common plastic abiotic responses to nitrogen (N) and water availability, and yet had substantial genotypic variation for root and shoot traits. A significant interaction between N and water stress combination treatments for axial and lateral root traits represents a complex and shared root development strategy for stress mitigation. Deep root growth and 15N capture were found to be closely linked to aboveground growth. Together, these results represent the wide genetic pool of switchgrass and show that deep rooting promotes nitrate capture, plant productivity, and sustainability.
Project description:Background:Deep rooting is one of the most promising plant traits for improving crop yield under water-limited conditions. Most root phenotyping methods are designed for laboratory-grown plants, typically measuring very young plants not grown in soil and not allowing full development of the root system. Results:This study introduced the 15N tracer method to detect genotypic variations of deep rooting and N uptake, and to support the minirhizotron method. The method was tested in a new semifield phenotyping facility on two genotypes of winter wheat, seven genotypes of spring barley and four genotypes of ryegrass grown along a drought stress gradient in four individual experiments. The 15N labeled fertilizer was applied at increasing soil depths from 0.4 to 1.8 m or from 0.7 to 2.8 m through a subsurface tracer supply system, and sampling of aboveground biomass was conducted to measure the 15N uptake. The results confirm that the 15N labeling system could identify the approximate extension of the root system. The results of 15N labeling as well as root measurements made by minirhizotrons showed rather high variation. However, in the spring barley experiment, we did find correlations between root observations and 15N uptake from the deepest part of the root zone. The labeled crop rows mostly had significantly higher 15N enrichment than their neighbor rows. Conclusion:We concluded that the 15N tracer method is promising as a future method for deep root phenotyping because the method will be used for phenotyping for deep root function rather than deep root growth. With some modifications to the injection principle and sampling process to reduce measurement variability, we suggest that the 15N tracer method may be a useful tool for deep root phenotyping. The results demonstrated that the minirhizotrons observed roots of the tested rows rather than their neighboring rows.
Project description:Root traits influence the amount of water and nutrient absorption, and are important for maintaining crop yield under drought conditions. The objectives of this research were to characterize variability of root traits among spring wheat genotypes and determine whether root traits are related to shoot traits (plant height, tiller number per plant, shoot dry weight, and coleoptile length), regions of origin, and market classes. Plants were grown in 150-cm columns for 61 days in a greenhouse under optimal growth conditions. Rooting depth, root dry weight, root: shoot ratio, and shoot traits were determined for 297 genotypes of the germplasm, Cultivated Wheat Collection (CWC). The remaining root traits such as total root length and surface area were measured for a subset of 30 genotypes selected based on rooting depth. Significant genetic variability was observed for root traits among spring wheat genotypes in CWC germplasm or its subset. Genotypes Sonora and Currawa were ranked high, and genotype Vandal was ranked low for most root traits. A positive relationship (R2 ? 0.35) was found between root and shoot dry weights within the CWC germplasm and between total root surface area and tiller number; total root surface area and shoot dry weight; and total root length and coleoptile length within the subset. No correlations were found between plant height and most root traits within the CWC germplasm or its subset. Region of origin had significant impact on rooting depth in the CWC germplasm. Wheat genotypes collected from Australia, Mediterranean, and west Asia had greater rooting depth than those from south Asia, Latin America, Mexico, and Canada. Soft wheat had greater rooting depth than hard wheat in the CWC germplasm. The genetic variability identified in this research for root traits can be exploited to improve drought tolerance and/or resource capture in wheat.
Project description:Plant rooting depth affects ecosystem resilience to environmental stress such as drought. Deep roots connect deep soil/groundwater to the atmosphere, thus influencing the hydrologic cycle and climate. Deep roots enhance bedrock weathering, thus regulating the long-term carbon cycle. However, we know little about how deep roots go and why. Here, we present a global synthesis of 2,200 root observations of >1,000 species along biotic (life form, genus) and abiotic (precipitation, soil, drainage) gradients. Results reveal strong sensitivities of rooting depth to local soil water profiles determined by precipitation infiltration depth from the top (reflecting climate and soil), and groundwater table depth from below (reflecting topography-driven land drainage). In well-drained uplands, rooting depth follows infiltration depth; in waterlogged lowlands, roots stay shallow, avoiding oxygen stress below the water table; in between, high productivity and drought can send roots many meters down to the groundwater capillary fringe. This framework explains the contrasting rooting depths observed under the same climate for the same species but at distinct topographic positions. We assess the global significance of these hydrologic mechanisms by estimating root water-uptake depths using an inverse model, based on observed productivity and atmosphere, at 30″ (∼1-km) global grids to capture the topography critical to soil hydrology. The resulting patterns of plant rooting depth bear a strong topographic and hydrologic signature at landscape to global scales. They underscore a fundamental plant-water feedback pathway that may be critical to understanding plant-mediated global change.
Project description:The optimal root system architecture (RSA) of a crop is context dependent and critical for efficient resource capture in the soil. Narrow root growth angle promoting deeper root growth is often associated with improved access to water and nutrients in deep soils during terminal drought. RSA, therefore is a drought-adaptive trait that could minimize yield losses in regions with limited rainfall. Here, GWAS for seminal root angle (SRA) identified seven marker-trait associations clustered on chromosome 6A, representing a major quantitative trait locus (<i>qSRA-6A</i>) which also displayed high levels of pairwise LD (<i>r</i> <sup>2</sup> = 0.67). Subsequent haplotype analysis revealed significant differences between major groups. Candidate gene analysis revealed loci related to gravitropism, polar growth and hormonal signaling. No differences were observed for root biomass between lines carrying hap1 and hap2 for <i>qSRA-6A</i>, highlighting the opportunity to perform marker-assisted selection for the <i>qSRA-6A</i> locus and directly select for wide or narrow RSA, without influencing root biomass. Our study revealed that the genetic predisposition for deep rooting was best expressed under water-limitation, yet the root system displayed plasticity producing root growth in response to water availability in upper soil layers. We discuss the potential to deploy root architectural traits in cultivars to enhance yield stability in environments that experience limited rainfall.
Project description:We aim to incorporate deep root traits into future wheat varieties to increase access to stored soil water during grain development, which is twice as valuable for yield as water captured at younger stages. Most root phenotyping efforts have been indirect studies in the laboratory, at young plant stages, or using indirect shoot measures. Here, soil coring to 2 m depth was used across three field environments to directly phenotype deep root traits on grain development (depth, descent rate, density, length, and distribution). Shoot phenotypes at coring included canopy temperature depression, chlorophyll reflectance, and green leaf scoring, with developmental stage, biomass, and yield. Current varieties, and genotypes with breeding histories and plant architectures expected to promote deep roots, were used to maximize identification of variation due to genetics. Variation was observed for deep root traits (e.g. 111.4-178.5cm (60%) for depth; 0.09-0.22cm/°C day (144%) for descent rate) using soil coring in the field environments. There was significant variation for root traits between sites, and variation in the relative performance of genotypes between sites. However, genotypes were identified that performed consistently well or poorly at both sites. Furthermore, high-performing genotypes were statistically superior in root traits than low-performing genotypes or commercial varieties. There was a weak but significant negative correlation between green leaf score (-0.5), CTD (0.45), and rooting depth and a positive correlation for chlorophyll reflectance (0.32). Shoot phenotypes did not predict other root traits. This study suggests that field coring can directly identify variation in deep root traits to speed up selection of genotypes for breeding programmes.
Project description:<h4>Background and aims</h4>Modern lettuce cultivars underperform under conditions of variable temporal and spatial resource availability, common in organic or low-input production systems. Information is scarce on the impact of below-ground traits on such resource acquisition and performance of field-grown lettuce; exploring genetic variation in such traits might contribute to strategies to select for robust cultivars, i.e., cultivars that perform well in the field, even under stress.<h4>Methods</h4>To investigate the impact of below-ground (root development and resource capture) on above-ground (shoot weight, leaf area) traits, different combinations of shoot and root growth were created using transplants of different sizes in three field experiments. Genetic variation in morphological and physiological below- and above-ground responses to different types of transplant shocks was assessed using four cultivars.<h4>Results</h4>Transplanting over-developed seedlings did not affect final yield of any of the four cultivars. Small transplant size persistently impacted growth and delayed maturity. The cultivars with overall larger root weights and rooting depth, "Matilda" and "Pronto," displayed a slightly higher growth rate in the linear phase leading to better yields than "Mariska" which had a smaller root system and a slower linear growth despite a higher maximal exponential growth rate. "Nadine," which had the highest physiological nitrogen-use efficiency (g dry matter produced per g N accumulated in the head) among the four cultivars used in these trials, gave most stable yields over seasons and trial locations.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Robustness was conferred by a large root system exploring deep soil layers. Additional root proliferation generally correlates with improved nitrate capture in a soil layer and cultivars with a larger root system may therefore perform better in harsh environmental conditions; increased nitrogen use efficiency can also confer robustness at low cost for the plant, and secure stable yields under a wide range of growing conditions.
Project description:Meta-QTL (MQTL) analysis is a robust approach for genetic dissection of complex quantitative traits. Rice varieties adapted to non-flooded cultivation are highly desirable in breeding programs due to the water deficit global problem. In order to identify stable QTLs for major agronomic traits under water deficit conditions, we performed a comprehensive MQTL analysis on 563 QTLs from 67 rice populations published from 2001 to 2019. Yield and yield-related traits including grain weight, heading date, plant height, tiller number as well as root architecture-related traits including root dry weight, root length, root number, root thickness, the ratio of deep rooting and plant water content under water deficit condition were investigated. A total of 61 stable MQTLs over different genetic backgrounds and environments were identified. The average confidence interval of MQTLs was considerably refined compared to the initial QTLs, resulted in the identification of some well-known functionally characterized genes and several putative novel CGs for investigated traits. Ortho-MQTL mining based on genomic collinearity between rice and maize allowed identification of five ortho-MQTLs between these two cereals. The results can help breeders to improve yield under water deficit conditions.
Project description:Environmental heterogeneity can drive patterns of functional trait variation and lead to the formation of locally adapted ecotypes. Plant ecotypes are often differentiated by suites of correlated root and shoot traits that share common genetic, developmental, and physiological relationships. For instance, although plant water loss is largely governed by shoot systems, root systems determine water access and constrain shoot water status. To evaluate the genetic basis of root and shoot trait divergence, we developed a recombinant inbred population derived from mesic and xeric ecotypes of the perennial grass Panicum hallii. Our study sheds light on the genetic architecture underlying the relationships between root and shoot traits. We identified several genomic "hotspots" which control suites of correlated root and shoot traits, thus indicating genetic coordination between plant organ systems in the process of ecotypic divergence. Genomic regions of colocalized quantitative trait locus (QTL) for the majority of shoot and root growth related traits were independent of colocalized QTL for shoot and root resource acquisition traits. The allelic effects of individual QTL underscore ecological specialization for drought adaptation between ecotypes and reveal possible hybrid breakdown through epistatic interactions. These results have implications for understanding the factors constraining or facilitating local adaptation in plants.
Project description:Robustness in lettuce, defined as the ability to produce stable yields across a wide range of environments, may be associated with below-ground traits such as water and nitrate capture. In lettuce, research on the role of root traits in resource acquisition has been rather limited. Exploring genetic variation for such traits and shoot performance in lettuce across environments can contribute to breeding for robustness. A population of 142 lettuce cultivars was evaluated during two seasons (spring and summer) in two different locations under organic cropping conditions, and water and nitrate capture below-ground and accumulation in the shoots were assessed at two sampling dates. Resource capture in each soil layer was measured using a volumetric method based on fresh and dry weight difference in the soil for soil moisture, and using an ion-specific electrode for nitrate. We used these results to carry out an association mapping study based on 1170 single nucleotide polymorphism markers. We demonstrated that our indirect, high-throughput phenotyping methodology was reliable and capable of quantifying genetic variation in resource capture. QTLs for below-ground traits were not detected at early sampling. Significant marker-trait associations were detected across trials for below-ground and shoot traits, in number and position varying with trial, highlighting the importance of the growing environment on the expression of the traits measured. The difficulty of identifying general patterns in the expression of the QTLs for below-ground traits across different environments calls for a more in-depth analysis of the physiological mechanisms at root level allowing sustained shoot growth.
Project description:Plant biomass allocation may be optimized to acquire and conserve resources. How trade-offs in the allocation of tropical tree seedlings depend on different stressors remains poorly understood. Here we test whether above- and below-ground traits of tropical tree seedlings could explain observed occurrence along gradients of resources (light, water) and defoliation (fire, herbivory). We grew 24 tree species occurring in five African vegetation types, varying from dry savanna to moist forest, in a glasshouse for 6 months, and measured traits associated with biomass allocation. Classification based on above-ground traits resulted in clusters representing savanna and forest species, with low and high shoot investment, respectively. Classification based on root traits resulted in four clusters representing dry savanna, humid savanna, dry forest and moist forest, characterized by a deep mean rooting depth, root starch investment, high specific root length in deeper soil layers, and high specific root length in the top soil layer, respectively. In conclusion, tree seedlings in this study show root trait syndromes, which vary along gradients of resources and defoliation: seedlings from dry areas invest in deep roots, seedlings from shaded environments optimize shoot investment, and seedlings experiencing frequent defoliation store resources in the roots.