Constitutive basis of root system architecture: uncovering a promising trait for breeding nutrient- and drought-resilient crops.

Liu Z, Qin T, Atienza M, Zhao Y, Nguyen H, Sheng H, Olukayode T, Song H, Panjvani K, Magalhaes J, Lucas WJ, Kochian LV

Published: 18 December 2023 in aBIOTECH
Keywords: Abiotic stress, Constitutive root system architecture, Drought resilience, Nutrient efficiency, Plant breeding
Pubmed ID: 38106432
DOI: 10.1007/s42994-023-00112-w

UNLABELLED: Root system architecture (RSA) plays a pivotal role in efficient uptake of essential nutrients, such as phosphorous (P), nitrogen (N), and water. In soils with heterogeneous nutrient distribution, root plasticity can optimize acquisition and plant growth. Here, we present evidence that a constitutive RSA can confer benefits for sorghum grown under both sufficient and limiting growth conditions. Our studies, using P efficient SC103 and inefficient BTx635 sorghum cultivars, identified significant differences in root traits, with SC103 developing a larger root system with more and longer lateral roots, and enhanced shoot biomass, under both nutrient sufficient and deficient conditions. In addition to this constitutive attribute, under P deficiency, both cultivars exhibited an initial increase in lateral root development; however, SC103 still maintained the larger root biomass. Although N deficiency and drought stress inhibited both root and shoot growth, for both sorghum cultivars, SC103 again maintained the better performance. These findings reveal that SC103, a P efficient sorghum cultivar, also exhibited enhanced growth performance under N deficiency and drought. Our results provide evidence that this constitutive nature of RSA can provide an avenue for breeding nutrient- and drought-resilient crops.SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s42994-023-00112-w.