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Temporal genetic patterns of root growth in Brassica napus L. revealed by a low-cost, high-efficiency hydroponic system

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Application of a low-cost and high-efficiency hydroponic system in a rapeseed population verified two types of genetic factors (“persistent” and “stage-specific”) that control root development.


The root system is a vital plant component for nutrient and water acquisition and is targeted to enhance plant productivity. Genetic dissection of the root system generally focuses on a single stage, but roots grow continuously during plant development. To reveal the temporal genetic patterns of root development, we measured nine root-related traits in a rapeseed recombinant inbred line population at six continuous stages during vegetative growth, using a modified hydroponic system with low-cost and high-efficiency features that could synchronize plant growth under controlled conditions. Phenotypic correlation and growth dynamic analysis suggested the existence of two types of genetic factors (“persistent” and “stage-specific”) that control root development. Dynamic (unconditional and conditional) quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping detected 28 stage-specific and 23 persistent QTLs related to root growth. Among them, 13 early stage-specific, 19 persistent and 8 later stage-specific QTLs were detected at 7 DAS (days after sowing), 16 DAS and 5 EL (expanding leaf stage), respectively, providing efficient and adaptable stages for QTL identification. The effective prediction of biomass accumulation using root morphological traits (up to 96.6% or 92.64% at a specific stage or the final stage, respectively) verified that root growth allocation with maximum root uptake area facilitated biomass accumulation. Furthermore, marker-assistant selection, which combined the “persistent” and “stage-specific” QTLs, proved their effectiveness for root improvement with an excellent uptake area. Our results highlight the potential of high-throughput and precise phenotyping to assess the dynamic genetics of root growth and provide new insights into ideotype root system-based biomass breeding.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31501820), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0100200), the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2015CB150200), and the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Project (CAAS-ASTIP-2013-OCRI).

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Correspondence to Xiaoling Dun or Hanzhong Wang.

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Communicated by Heiko C. Becker.

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Wang, J., Kuang, L., Wang, X. et al. Temporal genetic patterns of root growth in Brassica napus L. revealed by a low-cost, high-efficiency hydroponic system. Theor Appl Genet 132, 2309–2323 (2019).

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