Nutrient-dependent regulation of root architecture

Ricardo F.H.Giehl, Zhongtao Jia, Annett Bieber, Elis Fraust, Jacqueline Fuge

As sessile organisms, plants rely on efficient root responses to temporal and spatial changes of nutrient availabilities in soils for optimal growth and development. Studies from our laboratory have shown that changes in the plant nutritional status and in the external availability of different nutrients modulate root growth and developement over time by modulating the degree of branching, extension, placement, and growth direction of individual components of the root system (Lima et al., 2010; Giehl et al., 2012; Gruber et al., 2013; Giehl and von Wirén, 2014: Giehl et al., 2014). These observations indicate that nutrient-derived signals evoke distinct root architectural modifications by targeting specific root developmental checkpoints.

Currently, we are employing genome-wide association study (GWAS) and comparative transcriptomics to identify and characterize novel genes involved in such nutrient-dependent root architectural modifications in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. The genes identified in our studies can be used as targets for breeding crops with optimized root system architecture to improve nutrient uptake efficiency.