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JPSS Jülich Plant Science Seminar Series:
Prof. Dr. Philip N. Benfey, Biology Department and HHMI, Duke University, Durham, NC USA

22.09.2014 13:00 Uhr
22.09.2014 14:00 Uhr
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Gebäude 06.2 IBG-2, Seminarraum 406, 2.Stock

A systems approach to improved root traits

Philip N. Benfey

Biology Department and HHMI, Duke University, Durham, NC USA

Root systems are high value targets for crop improvement due to their potential to boost or stabilize yields, improve disease resistance, and reduce the need for fertilizers. Root system architecture (RSA) describes the spatial organization of the root system, which is critical for its function in challenging environments.

We have developed a semi-automated 3D imaging and phenotyping system to identify the genetic basis of root architecture. The integrated system combines hardware, imaging, software and analysis. We automatically reconstructed and phenotyped a well-studied rice mapping population identifying QTLs for RSA traits that control the extent, shape, distribution, and surface size of root networks. Apparent tradeoffs at some QTL clusters were consistent with genetic limitations on ‘ideal’ RSA phenotypes.

We also used a novel multivariate-composite QTL approach to extract central RSA phenotypes and identify large effect QTLs that control multiple root traits. We have recently extended this work to maize where we mapped large effect QTLs for RSA using the NAM mapping population. We are also using X-ray imaging to phenotype roots grown in soil. Thus, our approach can directly aid breeding efforts as well as identify important genes underlying environmentally robust QTLs. We have also uncovered a clock-like process responsible for the positioning of lateral roots along the root primary axis. Two sets of genes were identified that oscillate in opposite phases at the root tip and are involved in the production of prebranch sites, locations of future lateral roots

This work is supported by grants from the NIH, NSF, DARPA and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Contact:  Dr. Fabio Fiorani