Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

The shoot and root growth of Brachypodium and its potential as a model for wheat and other cereal crops

Michelle Watt A C , Katharina Schneebeli A , Pan Dong A B and Iain W. Wilson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Triticeae Research Institute, Sichuan Agricultural University, Yaan, Sichuan 625014, China.

C Corresponding author. Email: michelle.watt@csiro.au

Functional Plant Biology 36(11) 960-969 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP09214
Submitted: 11 August 2009  Accepted: 18 September 2009   Published: 5 November 2009

Abstract

The grass genetic model Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon (L.) Beauv., sequenced line Bd 21) was studied from germination to seed production to assess its potential as a phenotypic model for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and other cereal crops. Brachypodium and wheat shoot and root development and anatomy were highly similar. Main stem leaves and tillers (side shoots) emerged at the same time in both grasses in four temperature and light environments. Both developed primary and nodal axile roots at similar leaf stages with the same number and arrangement of vascular xylem tracheary elements (XTEs). Brachypodium, unlike wheat, had an elongated a mesocotyl above the seed and developed only one fine primary axile root from the base of the embryo, while wheat generally has three to five. Roots of both grasses could develop first, second and third order branches that emerged from phloem poles. Both developed up to two nodal axile roots from the coleoptile node at leaf 3, more than eight nodal axile roots from stem nodes after leaf 4, and most (97%) of the deepest roots at flowering were branches. In long days Brachypodium flowered 30 days after emergence, and root systems ceased descent 42 cm from the soil surface, such that mature roots can be studied readily in much smaller soil volumes than wheat. Brachypodium has the overwhelming advantage of a small size, fast life cycle and small genome, and is an excellent model to study cereal root system genetics and function, as well as genes for resource partitioning in whole plants.

Additional keywords: Arabidopsis, architecture, genome, monocotyledons, photoperiod, root anatomy, tillering.


Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Dr Dave Garvin for supplying the Brachypodium distachyon line Bd 21 seed, Dr John Vogel for advice on growing conditions and Drs Frank Hochholdinger, Margaret McCully and Richard Richards for valuable suggestions to the manuscript. This study was funded in part by a CSIRO Julius Award to MW and KS, a CSIRO-Ching Scholarship to PD and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).


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