Discovery of dynamics of how roots and shoots respond to water

Discovery of dynamics of how roots and shoots respond to water
Images show the MRI water signal from plant roots and shoots (top) and soil (bottom).

Plants are constantly exposed to periods of drought (no water input), followed by rainfall or irrigation. Quick recovery - fast capture of renewed water by roots and transport to the shoot - minimizes water loss to evaporation, increasing water use efficiency. The phenotypic processes and molecular bases of dynamics of drought recovery are not known. We are using functional phenotyping (selecting for developmental and physiological signals) to discover if phenotypic variation exists to exploit in phenotypic or genotypic breeding for water use efficiency.

The example comes from a project to increase the efficiency of ornamental breeding of Petunia. A medium through-put phenotyping tool using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was achieved by designing a container stacking to enable characterization of 350 plants per 24 hours (Jansen et al., 2014). A reproducible drought stress and re-watering protocol was developed, such that hourly dynamics in plants and soil were quantified. The result was that Petunia genotypes were differentiated based on rooting efficiency and the rooting kinetics and recovery after drought can be extracted from the MRI datasets.


Last Modified: 04.11.2022