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

Non-invasive approaches for phenotyping of enhanced performance traits in bean

Uwe Rascher A D , Stephan Blossfeld A , Fabio Fiorani A , Siegfried Jahnke A , Marcus Jansen A , Arnd J. Kuhn A , Shizue Matsubara A , Lea L. A. Märtin A , Andrew Merchant B , Ralf Metzner A , Mark Müller-Linow A , Kerstin A. Nagel A , Roland Pieruschka A , Francisco Pinto A , Christina M. Schreiber A , Vicky M. Temperton A , Michael R. Thorpe A , Dagmar van Dusschoten A , Elizabeth van Volkenburgh C , Carel W. Windt A and Ulrich Schurr A

A Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-2: Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Leo-Brandt-Str., 52425 Jülich, Germany.

B Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Biomedical Building, The University of Sydney, 1 Central Avenue, Eveleigh, NSW 2006, Australia.

C Biology Department, Box 35-5325, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: u.rascher@fz-juelich.de

Functional Plant Biology 38(12) 968-983 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP11164
Submitted: 26 July 2011  Accepted: 15 October 2011   Published: 1 December 2011

Abstract

Plant phenotyping is an emerging discipline in plant biology. Quantitative measurements of functional and structural traits help to better understand gene–environment interactions and support breeding for improved resource use efficiency of important crops such as bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Here we provide an overview of state-of-the-art phenotyping approaches addressing three aspects of resource use efficiency in plants: belowground roots, aboveground shoots and transport/allocation processes. We demonstrate the capacity of high-precision methods to measure plant function or structural traits non-invasively, stating examples wherever possible. Ideally, high-precision methods are complemented by fast and high-throughput technologies. High-throughput phenotyping can be applied in the laboratory using automated data acquisition, as well as in the field, where imaging spectroscopy opens a new path to understand plant function non-invasively. For example, we demonstrate how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can resolve root structure and separate root systems under resource competition, how automated fluorescence imaging (PAM fluorometry) in combination with automated shape detection allows for high-throughput screening of photosynthetic traits and how imaging spectrometers can be used to quantify pigment concentration, sun-induced fluorescence and potentially photosynthetic quantum yield. We propose that these phenotyping techniques, combined with mechanistic knowledge on plant structure–function relationships, will open new research directions in whole-plant ecophysiology and may assist breeding for varieties with enhanced resource use efficiency varieties.

Additional keywords: fluorescence, imaging spectroscopy, non-invasive, resource use efficiency.


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