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

Genetic variability for root morph-architecture traits and root growth dynamics as related to phosphorus efficiency in soybean

Junhua Ao A B , Jiabing Fu A C , Jiang Tian A , Xiaolong Yan A and Hong Liao A D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Root Biology Center, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, PR China.

B Guangzhou Sugarcane Industry Research Institute, Guangzhou 510316, PR China.

C CNAMP Shenzhen Fertilizer LTD, Shenzhen 518067, PR China.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 37(4) 304-312
Submitted: 12 August 2009  Accepted: 22 January 2010   Published: 26 March 2010


Root morphology and architecture are believed to be important for plant phosphorus (P) efficiency, but their genetic information is relatively scarce. In the present study, a field and a specially designed minirhizotron experiments were conducted using two soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) genotypes and their 88 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) to elucidate the genetic variability for root morph-architecture traits and root growth dynamics as related to P efficiency in soybean. The results indicated that the root morph-architecture traits were continually segregated in the RILs with a normal distribution, indicating which are possibly controlled by quantitative trait loci. Significantly positive correlations were found between root and P traits, suggesting feasibility of screening P efficient genotype through simple selection of root traits in field. Most root morph-architecture traits were closely correlated, showing a coordinating contribution to P efficiency. Furthermore, root morphological traits always had higher heritability than architecture traits, thus, could serve as more reliable index in field selection. The dynamic parameters of root growth from the minirhizotron experiment showed that the P efficient genotype established longer and larger root system with preferring distribution in surface layer and also kept more active roots, therefore, had a better growth performance in field, than the P-inefficient genotype. Taken together, this is the first report on in situ root growth dynamics and its relation to P efficiency using minirhizotron systems in crops. Our findings help to better understand the relationships between P efficiency and root traits and, thus, facilitate development of P efficient genotypes in crops.

Additional keywords: recombinant inbred lines, variation.


This research was support in part by the National Key Basic Research Special Funds of China, the McKnight Foundation Collaborative Crop Research Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.


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