High throughput phenotyping of root and shoot traits in Brassica to identify novel genetic loci for improved crop nutrition

Thomas, CL (2017) High throughput phenotyping of root and shoot traits in Brassica to identify novel genetic loci for improved crop nutrition. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Despite the success of breeding for high-yielding varieties during and since the ‘Green Revolution’, there are still an ever increasing number of people who suffer from malnutrition, due to both inadequate calorie intake and ‘hidden hunger’ from insufficient essential nutrients. There are also adverse impacts of such high-input, intensive agriculture on the wider environment. It is necessary therefore to focus breeding efforts on improving nutrient uptake and composition of crops, as well as improved yield. Roots have been an under-utilised focus of crop breeding, because of difficulty in observation and accurate measurement. Furthermore, genetic diversity in crop roots may have been lost in commercial varieties because of the focus on above-ground traits and the use of fertilisers. Techniques which can accurately measure phenotypic variation in roots, of a diverse range of germplasm at a high throughput, would increase the potential for identifying novel genetic loci related to improved nutrient uptake and composition.

The aim of this PhD was to screen at high throughput in a controlled-environment, the roots of an array of Brassica napus germplasm. The validity of the system to predict field performance, in traits including early vigour, nutrient composition and yield was assessed. Genetic loci underlying variation for the root traits were also investigated. A high throughput screen of the mineral composition of a mutagenised B. rapa population was also conducted, with the aim of identifying mutants with enhanced mineral composition of human essential elements, particularly magnesium.

It has been demonstrated that root traits in the high throughput system can predict field performance, particularly primary root length which has the greatest ‘broad-sense heritability’ and relates to early vigour and yield. Lateral root density on the otherhand was found across the studies to relate to mineral composition, particularly of micro-nutrients. Genetic loci underlying root traits, and enhanced magnesium accumulation have been identified, and have potential for use in breeding Brassica with improved mineral nutrition.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Broadley, M.R.
Graham, N.S.
Keywords: root phenotyping, mineral nutrition, Brassica crop, genetic loci
Subjects: S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 43440
Depositing User: Thomas, Catherine
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 10:34
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 12:32
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/43440

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