Temporal genetic patterns of root growth in Brassica napus L. revealed by a low-cost, high-efficiency hydroponic system

  • Jie Wang
  • Lieqiong Kuang
  • Xinfa Wang
  • Guihua Liu
  • Xiaoling DunEmail author
  • Hanzhong WangEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Application of a low-cost and high-efficiency hydroponic system in a rapeseed population verified two types of genetic factors (“persistent” and “stage-specific”) that control root development.


The root system is a vital plant component for nutrient and water acquisition and is targeted to enhance plant productivity. Genetic dissection of the root system generally focuses on a single stage, but roots grow continuously during plant development. To reveal the temporal genetic patterns of root development, we measured nine root-related traits in a rapeseed recombinant inbred line population at six continuous stages during vegetative growth, using a modified hydroponic system with low-cost and high-efficiency features that could synchronize plant growth under controlled conditions. Phenotypic correlation and growth dynamic analysis suggested the existence of two types of genetic factors (“persistent” and “stage-specific”) that control root development. Dynamic (unconditional and conditional) quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping detected 28 stage-specific and 23 persistent QTLs related to root growth. Among them, 13 early stage-specific, 19 persistent and 8 later stage-specific QTLs were detected at 7 DAS (days after sowing), 16 DAS and 5 EL (expanding leaf stage), respectively, providing efficient and adaptable stages for QTL identification. The effective prediction of biomass accumulation using root morphological traits (up to 96.6% or 92.64% at a specific stage or the final stage, respectively) verified that root growth allocation with maximum root uptake area facilitated biomass accumulation. Furthermore, marker-assistant selection, which combined the “persistent” and “stage-specific” QTLs, proved their effectiveness for root improvement with an excellent uptake area. Our results highlight the potential of high-throughput and precise phenotyping to assess the dynamic genetics of root growth and provide new insights into ideotype root system-based biomass breeding.



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31501820), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0100200), the National Key Basic Research Program of China (2015CB150200), and the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Project (CAAS-ASTIP-2013-OCRI).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 55 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 259 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oil Crops Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Key Laboratory of Biology and Genetic Improvement of Oil CropsMinistry of AgricultureWuhanChina

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