From lab to field: Open tools facilitating the translation of maize root traits
Asst. Prof. Patompong Johns Saengwilai
Variation of root traits is associated with soil resource acquisition under abiotic stresses. However, plant breeding programs targeting beneﬁcial root traits are hampered by lacking appropriate phenotyping tools. The availability of high-throughput root phenotyping technologies for seedlings as well as for mature plants grown in the ﬁeld enabled us to investigate trait translation from the lab to the ﬁeld. Here we used the established phenotyping techniques Rhizoslides, Shovelomics, and the image-based root phenotyping software, Digital Imaging of Root Traits (DIRT) to phenotype root traits of thirty seedlings and mature maize donor lines from the Drought Tolerance Maize for Africa (DTMA) project. The experiments were carried out in a controlled-environment and a ﬁeld trial under well-watered and drought conditions.
We found signiﬁcant correlation between seedlings seminal and crown root number in the ﬁeld (r = 0.68). Primary root branching of seedlings was negatively correlated with crown root branching of ﬁeld-grown plants (r=-0.54). Our study showed indirect translation of traits between primary root length (r = 0.29) and primary root branching (r = 0.20) with plant performance in the ﬁeld under drought. Our results suggest that root traits of maize seedlings are predictive for mature maize root traits and plant performance in the ﬁeld. Our ﬁndings suggest that using open tools for highthroughput root phenotyping to screen in maize seedling could be beneﬁcial for breeding programs and paves a cost effcient way for plant improvement and breeding programs in developing countries.
Schematic of plant root phenotyping techniques employed in our study (Salungyu et al. 2020).
Salungyu J, Thaitad S, Bucksch A, Kengkanna J, Saengwilai PJ (2020) From lab to field: Open tools facilitating the translation of maize root traits. F Crop Res 255:107872. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2020.107872
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