Roots are a key to drought-tolerant maize

An international study from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany, has elucidated the development and adaption of maize root systems to water availability since the start of domestication over 9,000 years ago.

9,000 maize varieties from all over the world were analysed in the study. Two sections of the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences – Plant Sciences and Agrosphere – at Forschungszentrum Jülich contributed to this study with MRI measurements as well as functional-structural plant modelling.

Their research supports the main results and was able to show that the root architecture, carbon allocation and water uptake of the roots changed depending on local water availability. The findings could be used in future to breed plants that are more resistant to limited water availability.

Wurzel als Schlüssel zu dürretoleranterem Mais
Three different maize plants after a drought and subsequent re-watering. | Copyrights: AG Hochholdinger/Uni Bonn

See the Press release of the University of Bonn for more information about the study:

The results of the study have been published in Nature Genetics:


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  • Plant Sciences (IBG-2)
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