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  1. Summary

    Root system architecture (RSA) is a critical aspect of plant growth and competitive ability. Here we used two independently evolved strains of weedy rice, a de‐domesticated form of rice, to study the evolution of weed‐associatedRSAtraits and the extent to which they evolve through shared or different genetic mechanisms.

    We characterised 98 two‐dimensional and three‐dimensionalRSAtraits in 671 plants representing parents and descendants of two recombinant inbred line populations derived from two weed × crop crosses. A random forest machine learning model was used to assess the degree to which root traits can predict genotype and the most diagnostic traits for doing so. We used quantitative trait locus (QTL)mapping to compare genetic architecture between the weed strains.

    The two weeds were distinguishable from the crop in similar and predictable ways, suggesting independent evolution of a ‘weedy’RSAphenotype. Notably, comparativeQTLmapping revealed little evidence for shared underlying genetic mechanisms.

    Our findings suggest that despite the double bottlenecks of domestication and de‐domestication, weedy rice nonetheless shows genetic flexibility in the repeated evolution of weedyRSAtraits. Whereas the root growth of cultivated rice may facilitate interactions among neighbouring plants, the weedy rice phenotype may minimise below‐ground contact as a competitive strategy.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    The root system is critical for the survival of nearly all land plants and a key target for improving abiotic stress tolerance, nutrient accumulation, and yield in crop species. Although many methods of root phenotyping exist, within field studies, one of the most popular methods is the extraction and measurement of the upper portion of the root system, known as the root crown, followed by trait quantification based on manual measurements or 2D imaging. However, 2D techniques are inherently limited by the information available from single points of view. Here, we used X-ray computed tomography to generate highly accurate 3D models of maize root crowns and created computational pipelines capable of measuring 71 features from each sample. This approach improves estimates of the genetic contribution to root system architecture and is refined enough to detect various changes in global root system architecture over developmental time as well as more subtle changes in root distributions as a result of environmental differences. We demonstrate that root pulling force, a high-throughput method of root extraction that provides an estimate of root mass, is associated with multiple 3D traits from our pipeline. Our combined methodology can therefore be used to calibrate and interpret root pulling force measurements across a range of experimental contexts or scaled up as a stand-alone approach in large genetic studies of root system architecture. 
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  3. 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. 
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  4. Grapevine 3D inflorescence architecture was comprehensively characterized among 10 wild Vitis species to reveal new phenotypic and evolutionary relationships. 
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