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 (Mo17, B73 and their hybrid) growing in a gel-based growth medium. From these images, they extracted structural and dynamic traits (e.g., total root length and volume, and growth rate and orientation for each individual root branch). They then developed mathematical models to describe the RSA dynamics for each line. They found clear genotype-specific differences in global RSAs over time. Furthemore, these differences were also apparent when they compared data from gel-grown plants to data from field-grown plants, indicating that this approach could, “eventually be used to predict genetic variation for complex RSAs and their functions.” (Summary by Mary Williams)  Plant Cell 10.1105/tpc.19.00015