OPEN Plant physiology | 22 May 2016
ED Rogers, D Monaenkova, M Mijar, A Nori, DI Goldman and PN Benfey
Root system architecture (RSA) impacts plant fitness and crop yield by facilitating efficient nutrient and water uptake from the soil. A better understanding of the effects of soil on RSA could improve crop productivity by matching roots to their soil environment. We used X-ray computed tomography to perform a detailed 3-D quantification of changes in rice RSA in response to the physical properties of a granular substrate. We characterized the RSA of eight rice cultivars in five different growth substrates and determined that RSA is the result of interactions between genotype and growth environment. We identified cultivar-specific changes in RSA in response to changing growth substrate texture. Azucena exhibited low RSA plasticity in all growth substrates, whereas Bala root depth was a function of soil hardness. Our imaging techniques provide a framework to study RSA in different growth environments, the results of which can be used to improve root traits with agronomic potential.
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