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Root angle in maize influences nitrogen capture and is regulated by calcineurin B-like protein (CBL)-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 15 (ZmCIPK15)

Schneider, Hannah M.; Lor, Vai Sa Nee; Hanlon, Meredith T.; Perkins, Alden; Kaeppler, Shawn M.; Borkar, Aditi N.; Bhosale, Rahul; Zhang, Xia; Rodriguez, Jonas; Bucksch, Alexander; Bennett, Malcolm J.; Brown, Kathleen M.; Lynch, Jonathan P.


Hannah M. Schneider

Vai Sa Nee Lor

Meredith T. Hanlon

Alden Perkins

Shawn M. Kaeppler

Xia Zhang

Jonas Rodriguez

Alexander Bucksch

Kathleen M. Brown

Jonathan P. Lynch


Crops with reduced nutrient and water requirements are urgently needed in global agriculture. Root growth angle plays an important role in nutrient and water acquisition. A maize diversity panel of 481 genotypes was screened for variation in root angle employing a high-throughput field phenotyping platform. Genome-wide association mapping identified several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with root angle, including one located in the root expressed CBL-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 15 (ZmCIPK15) gene (LOC100285495). Reverse genetic studies validated the functional importance of ZmCIPK15, causing a approximately 10° change in root angle in specific nodal positions. A steeper root growth angle improved nitrogen capture in silico and in the field. OpenSimRoot simulations predicted at 40 days of growth that this change in angle would improve nitrogen uptake by 11% and plant biomass by 4% in low nitrogen conditions. In field studies under suboptimal N availability, the cipk15 mutant with steeper growth angles had 18% greater shoot biomass and 29% greater shoot nitrogen accumulation compared to the wild type after 70 days of growth. We propose that a steeper root growth angle modulated by ZmCIPK15 will facilitate efforts to develop new crop varieties with optimal root architecture for improved performance under edaphic stress.


Schneider, H. M., Lor, V. S. N., Hanlon, M. T., Perkins, A., Kaeppler, S. M., Borkar, A. N., …Lynch, J. P. (2022). Root angle in maize influences nitrogen capture and is regulated by calcineurin B-like protein (CBL)-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 15 (ZmCIPK15). Plant, Cell and Environment, 45(3), 837-853.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 16, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 25, 2021
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Jul 6, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 8, 2021
Journal Plant Cell and Environment
Print ISSN 0140-7791
Electronic ISSN 1365-3040
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 3
Pages 837-853
Keywords Plant Science; Physiology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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