Exploration of the genetic basis of the root economic spectrum

plant roots

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By analyzing the trade-off between the acquisition and conservation of root systems between different plants, ecologists have put forward the hypothesis of root economy spectrum (RES). Some plant species have finer and cost-effective absorbent roots that contribute to rapid nutrient uptake but have shorter lifespan, while others have thicker and less cost-effective absorbent roots characterized by slower nutrient uptake but longer life. The RES hypothesis reflects the correlations between different root traits, which can facilitate the plants’ adaptation to the local environment. RES is one of the core issues in root ecology, but its adaptive role and genetic basis remain largely intangible.

Recently, Prof. Weile Chen of Zhejiang University College of Life Sciences teamed up with Prof. Thomas Juenger of the University of Texas at Austin to explore the molecular basis of RES from a functional genetics perspective. These research results appeared in a research article entitled “The genetic basis of the root economics spectrum in a perennial grass” in the journal PNAS on November 19, 2021.

Using a genetic mapping population of the original perennial shift grass, their study confirms the many genetic links between root morphology, growth, and turnover. Replacement of alleles derived from lowland ecotypes to those derived from highland ecotypes reduces the cost of root construction, but it increases the turnover of absorbent roots. The genetic balance between construction costs and turnover is likely to facilitate the local adaptation of the root strategy along the hot to cold climatic gradients in the species area.

In addition, the above-ground biomass of shift grass is perceived as an alternative to fossil fuels, and its underground root system helps store carbon captured by leaf photosynthesis in the soil.

“This study finds no direct conflict in genetic regulation between increased above-ground yield and improvement of subterranean carbon sequestration in switchgrass,” Chen said, adding that it suggests switchgrass’ enormous potential for achieving a win-win situation in “emission reduction” and ” carbon “. sequestration. “

Double-labeling technique to quantify the contribution from redistribution of root nutrients to plant regrowth after defoliation

More information:

Weile Chen et al., The genetic basis of the root economic spectrum of a perennial grass, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2107541118

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Exploring the genetic basis of the root economic spectrum (2021, December 27)
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