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Genotypic variation in the ability of wheat roots to penetrate wax layers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2013
JournalPlant and Soil
Journal number1-2
Volume364
Number of pages9
Pages171-179
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The role of the root system in mediating crop yields has recently been emphasised, resulting in several laboratory approaches for phenotyping root traits. We aimed to determine the existence of, and reasons for, genotypic variation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) root penetration of strong wax layers.

Three contrasting groups (UK elite lines, CIMMYT lines and near-isogenic lines of cv Mercia containing dwarfing and semi-dwarfing Rht alleles) comprising 18 different genotypes with contrasting phenologies were studied. We determined the ability of roots of these genotypes to penetrate strong wax layers and the angular spread of the root systems.

There were no intrinsic differences in root system ability to penetrate strong wax layers (consistent with the similar root diameter of all lines) since greater root penetration was simply related to more root axes. Recording root penetration of concentric zones of the wax layer demonstrated that cv. Battalion had a root system with a smaller angular spread than cv. Robigus, which had the root system with the greatest angular spread.

There was limited genotypic variability in root penetration of strong layers within the wheat cultivars studied. A key challenge will be to determine the physiological and agronomic significance of the variation in root angular spread.