Shared Genetic Control of Root System Architecture between Zea mays and Sorghum bicolor.

Zheng Z, Hey S, Jubery T, Liu H, Yang Y, Coffey L, Miao C, Sigmon B, Schnable JC, Hochholdinger F, Ganapathysubramanian B, Schnable PS

Published: 20 November 2019 in Plant physiology
Keywords: No keywords in Pubmed
Pubmed ID: 31740504
DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.00752

Determining the genetic control of root system architecture (RSA) in plants via large-scale genome-wide association study (GWAS) requires high-throughput pipelines for root phenotyping. We developed Core Root Excavation using Compressed-air (CREAMD), a high-throughput pipeline for the cleaning of field-grown roots, and Core Root Feature Extraction (COFE), a semiautomated pipeline for the extraction of RSA traits from images. CREAMD-COFE was applied to diversity panels of maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), which consisted of 369 and 294 genotypes, respectively. Six RSA-traits were extracted from images collected from >3,300 maize roots and >1,470 sorghum roots. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based GWAS identified 87 TAS (trait-associated SNPs) in maize, representing 77 genes and 115 TAS in sorghum. An additional 62 RSA-associated maize genes were identified via expression read depth GWAS. Among the 139 maize RSA-associated genes (or their homologs), 22 (16%) are known to affect RSA in maize or other species. In addition, 26 RSA-associated genes are coregulated with genes previously shown to affect RSA and 51 (37% of RSA-associated genes) are themselves transe-quantitative trait locus for another RSA-associated gene. Finally, the finding that RSA-associated genes from maize and sorghum included seven pairs of syntenic genes demonstrates the conservation of regulation of morphology across taxa.