Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Genetic mapping of basal root gravitropism and phosphorus acquisition efficiency in common bean

Hong Liao A B , Xiaolong Yan B , Gerardo Rubio A C , Steve E. Beebe D , Matthew W. Blair D and Jonathan P. Lynch A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16 802, USA.

B Laboratory of Plant Nutritional Genetics and Root Biology Center, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510 642, China.

C Faculty of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, 1417 Buenos Aires, Argentina.

D International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), AA 6713, Cali, Colombia.

E Corresponding author; email:

Functional Plant Biology 31(10) 959-970
Submitted: 19 December 2004  Accepted: 18 August 2004   Published: 14 October 2004


Root gravitropism determines the relative distribution of plant roots in different soil layers, and therefore, may influence the acquisition of shallow soil resources such as phosphorus (P). Growth pouch and field studies were conducted to evaluate root gravitropism of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in response to P deficiency and to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with this trait. A deep-rooted genotype, DOR364, was crossed with a shallow-rooted genotype, G19833, to obtain 86 F5.7 recombinant inbred lines (RILs). Root gravitropic traits were measured as basal root growth angle (BRGA), shallow basal root length (SBRL, basal root length in the top 0–3 cm of soil) and relative shallow basal root length (RSBRL, percentage of basal root length in the top 0–3 cm of soil relative to total basal root length). Large genetic variability for these traits was found in the parents and RILs, with BRGA ranging from –18.73 to 56.69º and SBRL ranging from 0.42 to 2.63 m per plant. The parents and six RILs with contrasting root gravitropism were further evaluated in the field, where root shallowness was significantly correlated with plant growth and P uptake. QTL were detected by single point analysis (SPA), interval mapping (IM) and composite interval mapping (CIM) techniques with a genetic map for the DOR364 × G19833 population consisting of 236 molecular markers. The IM / CIM QTL were detected among the 11 linkage groups of common bean, with 16 QTL controlling the above root traits and six QTL controlling P acquisition efficiency (PAE) in the field study. At least three of the root trait QTL were associated with QTL for PAE, suggesting that root gravitropic traits are associated with PAE and that QTL for these traits can be used to facilitate selection and breeding for higher P efficiency in common bean and other crops.

Keywords: basal root growth angle, common bean, phosphorus acquisition efficiency, root gravitropism.


This research was supported by USDA / NRI grants 97-00 533 and 99-00 632, and support from the Bean / Cowpea CRSP to JPL, USAID funding to SB and MB. The National Key Basic Research Special Funds of China grant and the National Natural Science Foundation of China grants to XY and HL also provided research support.


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