Variability of root traits in spring wheat germplasm


Root traits influence the amount of water and nutrient absorption, and are important for maintaining crop yield under drought conditions. The objectives of this research were to characterize variability of root traits among spring wheat genotypes and determine whether root traits are related to shoot traits (plant height, tiller number per plant, shoot dry weight, and coleoptile length), regions of origin, and market classes. Plants were grown in 150-cm columns for 61 days in a greenhouse under optimal growth conditions. Rooting depth, root dry weight, root: shoot ratio, and shoot traits were determined for 297 genotypes of the germplasm, Cultivated Wheat Collection (CWC). The remaining root traits such as total root length and surface area were measured for a subset of 30 genotypes selected based on rooting depth. Significant genetic variability was observed for root traits among spring wheat genotypes in CWC germplasm or its subset. Genotypes Sonora and Currawa were ranked high, and genotype Vandal was ranked low for most root traits. A positive relationship (R2≥0.35) was found between root and shoot dry weights within the CWC germplasm and between total root surface area and tiller number; total root surface area and shoot dry weight; and total root length and coleoptile length within the subset. No correlations were found between plant height and most root traits within the CWC germplasm or its subset. Region of origin had significant impact on rooting depth in the CWC germplasm. Wheat genotypes collected from Australia, Mediterranean, and west Asia had greater rooting depth than those from south Asia, Latin America, Mexico, and Canada. Soft wheat had greater rooting depth than hard wheat in the CWC germplasm. The genetic variability identified in this research for root traits can be exploited to improve drought tolerance and/or resource capture in wheat.


Citation: Narayanan S, Mohan A, Gill KS, Prasad PVV (2014) Variability of Root Traits in Spring Wheat Germplasm. PLoS ONE 9(6): e100317.


Root traits, Spring wheat, Shoot traits