Recent Posts

Shared genetic control of root system architecture between Zea mays and Sorghum bicolor (Plant Physiol)

Root research got a boost from Arabidopsis grown on Petri plants, but what do you do if you study something bigger, or want to see how roots grow in soil? Zheng et al. developed a new set of tools they call CREAMD-COFE [Core Root Excavation using Compressed-air (to extract the roots from soil), and Core…

Review: Soil compaction and the architectural plasticity of root systems (J Exp Bot)

Root system architecture (RSA) describes the spatial arrangement of root components within the soil. RSA is useful to understand the exploration of the plant to get nutrients and water through the soil space. In a new review, Correa et al. discuss RSA plasticity in response to soil compaction, which…

Machine learning enables high-throughput phenotyping for analyses of the genetic architecture of bulliform cell patterning in maize (G3)

Bulliform cells lie in rows along the upper (adaxial) surface of the maize leaf, and through changes in volume contribute to leaf-rolling, which is a response to water deficit. Several mutants have been identified that affect bulliform cell formation and function, but as yet their occurance in natural…

Review: Crop breeding technologies to feed the world (Nature Biotech)

The world demands food, plant scientists and breeders have the challenge of feeding a growing population. In a recent review Hickey et al. summarize the state-of-the-art technologies used for crop improvement. In use since 2003, ‘speed breeding’ is a set of improved methods for fast-tracking plant…

Three-dimensional time-lapse analysis of maize root system archictecture (Plant Cell)

Root system architecture (RSA) profoundly affects plant nutritent uptake and response to drought, and is also famously extremely developmental plastic, which makes it difficult to identify genes that control root growth traits. Here, Jiang et al. analyzed 3D growth patterns over time of three maize lines…

GRANAR, a new computational tool to better understand the functional importance of root anatomy (bioRxiv)

Uptake of water by plants depends on root conductivity, which in turn is determined by hydraulic properties of individual cells and cell anatomy. Quantification of radial root anatomy is a time-consuming process, limiting our understanding of root anatomical features contributing to water uptake. Heymans…

A diversity of traits contributes to salinity tolerance of wild Galapagos tomatoes seedlings (bioRxiv)

Domestication has been accompanied by a decrease in genetic diversity, so efforts to improve stress tolerance can be aided by exploring the crop’s wild relatives. Here, Pailles et al. examined salt tolerance in Galapagos tomatoes (Solanum cheesmaniae and Solanum galapagense), which grow “constantly…

Distinct characteristics of genes associated with phenome-wide variation in maize (Zea mays) (bioRxiv)

High-throughput plant phenotyping is growing rapidly and enables the collection of dozens or hundreds of traits of the same plant genotype efficiently. The development of this technology expands the diversity of plant phenotypes and brings an opportunity for reexamining the connections between genotype…

Review: Deep learning on image-based plant phenotyping (Trends Plant Sci)

The development of deep learning brings opportunities to train computers to solve complex questions. Self-driving vehicles are classic examples of an application of deep learning in the real world. However, the large amounts of data that are required for building accurate models and avoiding overfitting…