Plant and Soil

, Volume 354, Issue 1–2, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Assessing variability in root traits of wild Lupinus angustifolius germplasm: basis for modelling root system structure

  • Ying Long ChenEmail author
  • Vanessa M. Dunbabin
  • Art J. Diggle
  • Kadambot H. M. Siddique
  • Zed RengelEmail author
Regular Article


Background and aims

Intra-specific variation in root system architecture and consequent efficiency of resource capture by major crops has received recent attention. The aim of this study was to assess variability in a number of root traits among wild genotypes of narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.), to provide a basis for modelling of root structure.


A subset of 111 genotypes of L. angustifolius was selected from a large germplasm pool based on similarity matrices calculated using Diversity Array Technology markers. Plants were grown for 6 weeks in the established semi-hydroponic phenotyping systems to measure the fine-scale features of the root systems.


Root morphology of wild L. angustifolius was primarily dominated by the taproot and first-order branches, with the presence of densely or sparsely distributed second-order branches in the late growth stage. Large variation in most root traits was identified among the tested genotypes. Total root length, branch length and branch number in the entire root system and in the upper roots were the most varied traits (coefficient of variation CV >0.50). Over 94% of the root system architectural variation determined from the principal components analysis was captured by six components (eigenvalue >1). Five relatively homogeneous groups of genotypes with distinguished patterns of root architecture were separated by k-means clustering analysis.


Variability in the fine-scale features of root systems such as branching behaviour and taproot growth rates provides a basis for modelling root system structure, which is a promising path for selecting desirable root traits in breeding and domestication of wild and exotic resources of L. angustifolius for stressful or poor soil environments.


Lupinus angustifolius Phenotyping Root system architecture Root modelling Root traits Variation Wild genotype 



The Australian Research Council (ARC) provided funding for this research. We acknowledge J. Clements from The University of Western Australia, and the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia, for providing lupin seed and advice for this work. We are grateful to J.P. Lynch of Pennsylvania State University for critical comments on a draft, and M. Renton for an initial discussion on the use of R program.


  1. Ao J, Fu AJ, Tian J, Yan X, Liao H (2010) Genetic variability for root morph-architecture traits and root growth dynamics as related to phosphorus efficiency in soybean. Funct Plant Biol 37:304–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berger JD, Adhikari KN, Wilkinson D, Buirchell BJ, Sweetingham MW (2008) Ecogeography of the Old World lupins 1 ecotypic variation in yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus L). Aust J Agric Res 59:691–701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop A, Delane R, Hamblin J (1986) Root characteristics in branching and reduced branching lupins. In: Proceedings of 4th International Lupin Conference, 15–22 August, 1986. Geraldton, Western Australian. International Lupin Association, Canterbury, New Zealand, pp. 313Google Scholar
  4. Buirchell BJ (2008) Narrow-leafed lupin breeding in Australia–Where to from here? In: Palta JA, Berger JB (eds) Lupins for Health and Wealth–Proceedings of the 12th International Lupin Conference. 14–18 Sept. 2008, Fremantle, Western Australia. International Lupin Association, Canterbury, pp 226–230Google Scholar
  5. Byrne F, Robertson MJ, Bathgate A, Hoque Z (2010) Factors influencing potential scale of adoption of a perennial pasture in a mixed crop-livestock farming system. Agric Syst 103:453–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casson SA, Lindsey K (2003) Genes and signalling in root development. New Phytol 158:11–38Google Scholar
  7. Chen YL, Dunbabin VM, Diggle AJ, Siddique KHM, Rengel Z (2011a) Development of a novel semi-hydroponic phenotyping system for studying root architecture. Funct Plant Biol 38:355–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen YL, Dunbabin VM, Postma J, Diggle AJ, Lynch JP, Siddique KHM, Rengel Z (2011b) Phenotypic variation and modelling of wild Lupinus angustifolius germplasm. Plant Soil 348:345–364. doi: 10.1007/s11104-011-0939-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clements JC, Cowling WA (1994) Patterns of morphological diversity in relation to geographical origins of wild Lupinus angustifolius from the Aegean region. Gen Resour Crop Evol 41:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clements JC, White PF, Buirchell BJ (1993) The root morphology of Lupinus angustifolius in relation to other Lupinus species. Aust J Agric Res 44:1367–1375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Comas LH, Eissenstat DE (2009) Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species. New Phytol 182:919–928PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Dorlodot S, Forster B, Pagès L, Price A, Tuberosa R, Draye X (2007) Root system architecture, opportunities and constraints for genetic improvement of crops. Trends Plant Sci 12:474–481PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diggle AJ (1988) ROOTMAP—a model in three-dimensional co-ordinates of the growth and structure of fibrous root systems. Plant Soil 105:169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dracup M, Thomson B (2000) Narrow-leafed lupins with restricted branching. Ann Bot 85:29–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dunbabin VM (2007) Simulating the role of rooting traits in crop–weed competition. Field Crop Res 104:44–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunbabin VM, Rengel Z, Diggle A (2001) Lupinus angustifolius has a plastic uptake response to heterogeneously supplied nitrate while Lupinus pilosus does not. Aust J Agric Res 52:505–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dunbabin VM, Diggle AJ, Rengel Z, van Hugten R (2002) Modelling the interactions between water and nutrient uptake and root growth. Plant Soil 239:19–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dunbabin VM, Diggle AJ, Rengel Z (2003) Is there an optimal root architecture for nitrate capture in leaching environments? Plant Cell Environ 26:835–844PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eissenstat DM, Wells CE, Yanai RD, Whitbeck JL (2000) Building roots in a changing environment, implications for root longevity. New Phytol 147:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giuliani S, Sanguineti MC, Tuberosa R, Bellotti M, Salvi S, Laudi P (2005) Root-ABA1, a major constitutive QTL, affects maize root architecture and leaf ABA concentration at different water regimes. J Exp Bot 56:3061–3070PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gladstones JS (1974) Lupins of the Mediterranean region and Africa. West Aust Depart Agr Tech Bull 26:1–48Google Scholar
  22. Gregory PJ, Bengough AG, Grinev D, Schmidt S, Thomas WTB, Wojciechowski T, Young IM (2009) Root phenomics of crops, opportunities and challenges. Funct Plant Biol 36:922–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hammer GL, Dong Z, McLean G, Doherty A, Messina C, Schussler J, Zinselmeier C, Paszkiewicz S, Cooper M (2009) Can changes in canopy and/or root system architecture explain historical maize yield trends in the US corn belt? Crop Sci 49:299–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hodge A (2010) Roots, the acquisition of water and nutrients from the heterogeneous soil environment. Prog Bot 71:307–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodge A, Berta G, Doussan C, Merchan F, Crespi M (2009) Plant root growth, architecture and function. Plant Soil 321:153–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Horii H, Nemoto K, Miyamoto N, Harada J (2005) Quantitative trait loci for adventitious and lateral roots in rice. Plant Breed 125:198–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jolliffe IT (2002) Principal component analysis, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. López-Bucio J, Cruz-Ramírez A, Herrera-Estrella L (2003) The role of nutrient availability in regulating root architecture. Curr Opin Plant Biol 6:280–287PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lynch J (1995) Root architecture and plant productivity. Plant Physiol 109:7–13PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lynch JP, Brown KM (2001) Topsoil foraging—an architectural adaptation of plants to low phosphorus availability. Plant Soil 237:225–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lynch J, Nielsen K, Davis R, Jablokow A (1997) Simroot, modeling and visualization of botanical root systems. Plant Soil 188:139–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Manschadi AM, Hammer GL, Christopher JT, de Voil P (2008) Genotypic variation in seedling root architectural traits and implications for drought adaptation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Plant Soil 303:115–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manske GGB, Ortiz-Monasterio JI, Ginkel MV, González RM, Rajaram S, Molina E, Vlek PLG (2000) Traits associated with improved P-uptake efficiency in CIMMYT’s semi-dwarf spring bread wheat grown on an acid Andisol in Mexico. Plant Soil 221:189–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Merrill SD, Tanaka DL, Hanson JD (2002) Root length growth of eight crop species in Haplustoll soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:913–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nelson MN, Moolhuijzen PM, Boersma JG, Chudy M, Lesniewska K, Bellgard M, Oliver RP, Swiecicki W, Wolko B, Cowling WA, Ellwood SR (2010) Aligning a new reference genetic map of Lupinus angustifolius with the genome sequence of the model legume, Lotus japonicus. DNA Res 17:73–83PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nibau C, Gibbs DJ, Coates JC (2008) Branching out in new directions, the control of root architecture by lateral root formation. New Phytol 179:595–614PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nielsen KL, Lynch JP, Weiss HN (1997) Fractal geometry of bean root systems, correlations between spatial and fractal dimension. Am J Bot 84:26–33PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nielsen KL, Eshel A, Lynch JP (2001) The effect of phosphorus availability on the carbon economy of contrasting common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) genotypes. J Exp Biol 52:329–339Google Scholar
  39. Ostonen I, Püttsepp Ü, Biel C, Alberton O, Bakker MR, Lõhmus K, Majdi H, Metcalfe D, Olsthoorn AFM, Pronk A, Vanguelova E, Weih M, Brunner I (2007) Specific root length as an indicator of environmental change. Plant Biosystems 141:426–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Palta JA, Berger JD, Ludwig C (2008) The growth and yield of narrow leafed lupin, myths and realities. In: Palta JA, Berger JB (eds) Lupins for Health and Wealth - Proceedings of the 12th International Lupin Conference, 14–18 September, 2008, Fremantle, Western Australia. International Lupin Association, Canterbury, pp 20–25Google Scholar
  41. Probert ME, Dimes JP, Keating BA, Dalal RC, Strong WM (1998) APSIM’s water and nitrogen modules and simulation of the dynamics of water and nitrogen in fallow systems. Agr Syst 56:1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rengel Z, Damon PM (2008) Crops and genotypes differ in efficiency of potassium uptake and use. Physiol Plant 133:624–636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Römer W, Kang DK, Egle K, Gerke J, Keller H (2000) The acquisition of cadmium by Lupinus albus L., Lupinus angustifolius L., and Lolium multiflorum Lam. J Plant Nutr Soil Sc 163:623–628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rose CW, Chichester FW, Williams JR, Ritchie JT (1982) A contribution to simplified models of field solute transport. J Environ Qual 11:146–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rose TJ, Rengel Z, Ma Q, Bowden JW (2009) Crop species differ in root plasticity response to localised P supply. J Plant Nutr Soil Sc 172:360–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sergeeva LI, Keurentjes JJB, Bentsink L, Vonk J, van der Plas LHW, Koornneef M, Vreugdenhil D (2006) Vacuolar invertase regulates elongation of Arabidopsis thaliana roots as revealed by QTL and mutant analysis. Proc Natl Acad Sc U S A 103:2994–2999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steele KA, Virk DS, Kumar R, Prasad SC, Witcombe JR (2007) Field evaluation of upland rice lines selected for QTLs controlling root traits. Field Crop Res 101:180–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tabachnik BG, Fidell LS (1996) Using multivariate statistics. Harper Collins, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Tang C, Robson AD (1998) Correlation between soil pH of collection site and the tolerance of wild genotypes of Lupinus angustifolius L. to neutral pH. Aust J Exp Agric 38:355–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Walk TC, Jaramillo P, Lynch JP (2006) Architectural tradeoffs between adventitious and basal roots for phosphorus acquisition. Plant Soil 279:347–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Weih M, Rönnberg-Wästljung A, Glynn C (2006) Genetic basis of phenotypic correlations among growth traits in hybrid willow (Salix dasyclados × S. viminalis) grown under two water regimes. New Phytol 170:467–477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yuan H, Yan G, Siddique KHM, Yang H (2005) RAMP based fingerprinting and assessment of relationships among Australian narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.) cultivars. Aust J Agric Res 56:1339–1346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhu J, Zhang C, Lynch JP (2010) The utility of phenotypic plasticity of root hair length for phosphorus acquisition. Funct Plant Biol 37:313–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying Long Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Vanessa M. Dunbabin
    • 3
  • Art J. Diggle
    • 4
  • Kadambot H. M. Siddique
    • 2
  • Zed Rengel
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, School of Earth and Environment (M087)The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.The UWA Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western Australia (M082)CrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural ResearchThe University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  4. 4.The Department of Agriculture and FoodWestern AustraliaBentleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations