Root systems develop different root types that individually sense cues from their local environment and integrate this information with systemic signals. This complex multi-dimensional amalgam of inputs enables continuous adjustment of root growth rates, direction, and metabolic activity that define a dynamic physical network. Current methods for analyzing root biology balance physiological relevance with imaging capability. To bridge this divide, we developed an integrated-imaging system called Growth and Luminescence Observatory for Roots (GLO-Roots) that uses luminescence-based reporters to enable studies of root architecture and gene expression patterns in soil-grown, light-shielded roots. We have developed image analysis algorithms that allow the spatial integration of soil properties, gene expression, and root system architecture traits. We propose GLO-Roots as a system that has great utility in presenting environmental stimuli to roots in ways that evoke natural adaptive responses and in providing tools for studying the multi-dimensional nature of such processes.more » « less
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Jez, Joseph M. ; Topp, Christopher N. (Ed.)A plants’ water and nutrients are primarily absorbed through roots, which in a natural setting is highly dependent on the 3-dimensional configuration of the root system, collectively known as root system architecture (RSA). RSA is difficult to study due to a variety of factors, accordingly, an arsenal of methods have been developed to address the challenges of both growing root systems for imaging, and the imaging methods themselves, although there is no ‘best’ method as each has its own spectrum of trade-offs. Here, we describe several methods for plant growth or imaging. Then, we introduce the adaptation and integration of three complementary methods, root mesocosms, photogrammetry, and electrical resistance tomography (ERT). Mesocosms can allow for unconstrained root growth, excavation and preservation of 3-dimensional RSA, and modularity that facilitates the use of a variety of sensors. The recovered root system can be digitally reconstructed through photogrammetry, which is an inexpensive method requiring only an appropriate studio space and a digital camera. Lastly, we demonstrate how 3-dimensional water availability can be measured using ERT inside of root mesocosms.more » « less
Roots provide essential uptake of water and nutrients from the soil, as well as anchorage and stability for the whole plant. Root orientation, or angle, is an important component of the overall architecture and depth of the root system; however, little is known about the genetic control of this trait. Recent reports in
Oryza sativa(rice) identified a role for ( DEEPER ROOTING1 ) in influencing the orientation of the root system, leading to positive changes in grain yields under water‐limited conditions. Here we found that DRO1 and DRO1 ‐related genes are present across diverse plant phyla, and fall within the DRO1 IGTgene family. The IGTfamily also includes and TAC1 , which are known to affect the orientation of lateral shoots. Consistent with a potential role in root development, LAZY1 homologs in Arabidopsis and peach showed root‐specific expression. Promoter–reporter constructs revealed that DRO1 Atis predominantly expressed in both the root vasculature and root tips, in a distinct developmental pattern. Mutation of DRO1 Atled to more horizontal lateral root angles. Overexpression of DRO1 Atunder a constitutive promoter resulted in steeper lateral root angles, as well as shoot phenotypes including upward leaf curling, shortened siliques and narrow lateral branch angles. A conserved C‐terminal DRO1 EAR‐like motif found in IGTgenes was required for these ectopic phenotypes. Overexpression of Ppein DRO1 Prunus domestica(plum) led to deeper‐rooting phenotypes. Collectively, these data indicate a potential application for ‐related genes to alter root architecture for drought avoidance and improved resource use. DRO1
Societal Impact Statement
Micronutrient deficiency or “hidden hunger” is estimated to affect two billion people worldwide and increasing the micronutrient concentration of food could play an important role in tackling this global challenge. Using a combination of imaging techniques and atomic absorption spectroscopy, we describe a link between root phenotype and micronutrient concentration in cassava, which could enable new phenotypic selection strategies for breeding. This approach could be used with existing breeding infrastructure to enhance the micronutrient concentration of cassava and hence, benefit the health of people, particularly in low‐income countries where cassava is consumed as a staple crop.
Cassava storage roots are a staple food in low‐income countries of South‐East Asia and sub‐Saharan Africa, where growth stunting is prevalent as a consequence of micronutrient deficiencies. We aim to link phenotypes of field‐grown cassava roots to micronutrient concentration in the edible storage roots as a simple way to improve phenotypic selection for nutritional value in cassava.
We used existing and newly developed imaging techniques to quantify root phenotypes of the cassava root architecture over time and used flame atomic absorption spectroscopy to measure micronutrient concentration in storage roots. Both together allow the association of root phenotypes with micronutrient concentration in mature cassava roots.
We show that early and late bulking genotypes in cassava exhibit distinct foraging behaviors that are associated with micronutrient concentration in the edible storage root. Our observations suggest that late bulking cassava is a key to provide sufficient micronutrients in the edible storage root.
The association between root phenotype and micronutrient concentration with imaging techniques allows phenotypic selection for enhanced micronutrient concentration. Therefore, implementing image‐based phenotyping into cassava breeding programs in sub‐Saharan Africa and South‐East Asia could be an essential element to resolve micronutrient deficiencies that puts individuals at a higher risk of growth stunting.
Although there have been numerous studies describing plant growth systems for root exudate collection, a common limitation is that these systems require disruption of the plant root system to facilitate exudate collection. Here, we present a newly designed semi-hydroponic system that uses glass beads as solid support to simulate soil impedance, which combined with drip irrigation, facilitates growth of healthy maize plants, collection and analysis of root exudates, and phenotyping of the roots with minimal growth disturbance or root damage.
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A new plant growth system combining glass beads supported hydroponics with semi-automated drip irrigation of sterile solutions was implemented to grow maize plants and collect root exudates without disturbing or damaging the roots. The validated targeted exudate metabolomics platform combined with root phenotyping provides a powerful tool to link plant root and exudate phenotypes to genotype and study the natural variation of plant populations.
Abstract The development of crops with deeper roots holds substantial promise to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Deeper roots are an essential factor to improve water uptake as a way to enhance crop resilience to drought, to increase nitrogen capture, to reduce fertilizer inputs, and to increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere to improve soil organic fertility. A major bottleneck to achieving these improvements is high-throughput phenotyping to quantify root phenotypes of field-grown roots. We address this bottleneck with Digital Imaging of Root Traits (DIRT)/3D, an image-based 3D root phenotyping platform, which measures 18 architecture traits from mature field-grown maize (Zea mays) root crowns (RCs) excavated with the Shovelomics technique. DIRT/3D reliably computed all 18 traits, including distance between whorls and the number, angles, and diameters of nodal roots, on a test panel of 12 contrasting maize genotypes. The computed results were validated through comparison with manual measurements. Overall, we observed a coefficient of determination of r2>0.84 and a high broad-sense heritability of Hmean2> 0.6 for all but one trait. The average values of the 18 traits and a developed descriptor to characterize complete root architecture distinguished all genotypes. DIRT/3D is a step toward automated quantification of highly occluded maize RCs. Therefore, DIRT/3D supports breeders and root biologists in improving carbon sequestration and food security in the face of the adverse effects of climate change.more » « less