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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Clear effects on root system architecture of winter wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.) from cultivation environment and practices

Cope, Jonathan E.; Berckx, Fede; Lundmark, Johan; Henriksson, Tina; Karlsson, Ida; Weih, Martin; et al.


Roots play a pivotal role in the adaption of a plant to its environment, with different root traits adapting the plant to different stresses. The environment affects the Root System Architecture (RSA), but the genetic factors determine to what extent, and whether stress brought about by extreme environmental conditions is detrimental to a specific crop. This study aimed to identify differences in winter wheat RSA caused by cultivation region and practice, in the form of preceding crop (precrop), and to identify if modern cultivars used in Sweden differ in their reaction to these environments. This was undertaken using high-throughput phenotyping to assess the RSA. Clear differences in the RSA were observed between the Swedish cultivation regions, precrop treatments, and interaction of these conditions with each other and the genetics. Julius showed a large difference between cultivars, with 9.3-17.1% fewer and 12-20% narrower seminal roots. Standardized yield decreased when grown after wheat, 23% less compared to oilseed rape (OSR), and when grown in the Southern region, 14% less than the Central region. Additionally, correlations were shown between the root number, angle, and grain yield, with different root types being correlated depending on the precrop. Cultivars on the Swedish market show differences that can be adapted to the region-precrop combinations. The differences in precrop effect on RSA between regions show global implications and a need for further assessment. Correlations between RSA and yield, based on root-typexprecrop, indicate different needs of the RSA depending on the management practices and show the potential for improving crop yield through targeting genotypic and environmental conditions in a holistic manner. Understanding this RSA variance, and the mechanisms of conditional response, will allow targeted cultivar breeding for specific environments, increasing plant health and food security.


Root system architecture; Root growth; Triticum aestivum; Precrop effect; Wheat yield

Published in

Scientific Reports
2024, Volume: 14, number: 1, article number: 11099