Root Anatomy for Abiotic Stress Tolerance

Investigating the impact of root anatomical traits on drought tolerance, phosphorus deficiency, and nitrogen deficiency in the greenhouse and field.

PIs: Jonathan Lynch, Kathleen Brown


Molly Hanlon, Penn State University

Jenna Reeger, Penn State University

Stephanie Klein, Penn State University

Chris Strock, Penn State University

Tian Tian, China Agricultural University


Project Summary:

Rice (Oryza sativa) is eaten by over half the world's population and is grown on over 164 MHA around the world.  Especially in developing nations, many who eat and grow rice live in poverty.  Low-input farming leads to nutrient deficiencies and drought stress during the growing season, and climate change is predicted to exacerbate drought in many areas.  There is therefore a need for nutrient and drought stress resistant rice varieties.  Because roots are the main organ for water and nutrient acquisition, our work focuses on root traits in rice.

Our previous work in maize and bean has shown that root anatomical and architectural traits improve drought and nutrient deficiency tolerance.  These trends have yet to be shown in rice.

The goal of this project is to determine if root anatomical and architectural traits promote growth under drought and nutrient stresses in rice.  These studies are conducted in greenhouse mesocosms at Penn State.

Our work so far has shown that there is significant variation in root anatomical and architectural traits in rice and that most of these traits are influenced by P deficiency (Vejchasarn, Lynch & Brown. 2016).