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Root architecture and leaf photosynthesis traits and associations with nitrogen-use efficiency in landrace-derived lines in wheat

Kareem, Shadia H.S.; Hawkesford, Malcolm J.; DeSilva, Jayalath; Weerasinghe, Minuka; Wells, Darren M.; Pound, Michael P.; Atkinson, Jonathan A.; Foulkes, M. John


Shadia H.S. Kareem

Malcolm J. Hawkesford

Jayalath DeSilva

Minuka Weerasinghe

Principal Research Fellow

Future Food Beacon: technologist in Phenomics


Root system architecture (RSA) is important in optimizing the use of nitrogen. High-throughput phenotyping techniques may be used to study root system architecture traits under controlled environments. A root phenotyping platform, consisting of germination paper-based pouch and wick coupled with image analysis, was used to characterize root seedling traits in 30 landrace-derived bread wheat genotypes and the bread wheat parent Paragon under hydroponic high N (HN) and low N (LN) conditions. In addition, two glasshouse experiments under HN and LN conditions were carried out to measure whole plant performance including flag-leaf photosynthetic rate, N uptake and biomass per plant for 13 wheat genotypes of which eight were common with those in the root phenotyping hydroponic experiment. There were significant differences in RSA traits between genotypes for seminal root number per plant, lateral root number per plant, seminal root length per plant and seminal root angle, with transgressive segregation for landrace-derived lines above the elite parental cultivar Paragon under HN and LN conditions. In the glasshouse experiments, genetic variation in flag-leaf photosynthesis rate was found in landrace-derived genotypes in the range 25.9–33.3 µmol m−2 s−1 under HN and in N uptake in the ranges 0.37–0.48 g N plant−1and 0.21–0.30 g plant−1 under HN and LN conditions, respectively (P < 0.05), with transgressive segregation above Paragon. Plant Nitrogen Nutrition Index also showed transgressive segregation in the landrace-derived lines above Paragon under HN and LN conditions. Greater maximum root depth and more lateral roots per plant in the hydroponic screen were each correlated with increased biomass per plant under LN conditions. Results from this study demonstrated genetic variation for seedling RSA traits in landrace-derived lines above the elite parental cultivar Paragon, which potentially could be utilized to improve N-use efficiency in breeding programmes.


Kareem, S. H., Hawkesford, M. J., DeSilva, J., Weerasinghe, M., Wells, D. M., Pound, M. P., …Foulkes, M. J. (2022). Root architecture and leaf photosynthesis traits and associations with nitrogen-use efficiency in landrace-derived lines in wheat. European Journal of Agronomy, 140, Article 126603.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 26, 2022
Publication Date Oct 1, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 24, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 27, 2024
Journal European Journal of Agronomy
Print ISSN 1161-0301
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 140
Article Number 126603
Public URL
Publisher URL