James D. Burridge, Christopher K. Black, Eric A. Nord, Johannes A. Postma, Jagdeep S. Sidhu, Larry M. York, Jonathan P. Lynch


Plant Phenomics, 2020:3252703 

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A soil coring protocol was developed to co-optimize estimation of root length distribution (RLD) by depth and detection of functionally important variation in root system architecture (RSA) of maize and bean. The functional-structural model OpenSimRoot was used to perform in-silico soil coring at six locations on three different maize and bean RSA phenotypes. Results were compared to two seasons of field soil coring and one trench. Two one-sided T test (TOST) analysis of in-silico data suggests a between-row location 5 cm from plant base (location 3), best estimates whole-plot RLD/D of deep, intermediate and shallow RSA phenotypes, for both maize and bean. Quadratic discriminate analysis indicates location 3 has ~70% categorization accuracy for bean, while an in-row location next to the plant base (location 6) has ~85% categorization accuracy in maize. Analysis of field data suggests the more representative sampling locations varies by year and species. In-silico and field studies suggest location 3 is most robust, although variation is significant among seasons, among replications within a field season and among field soil coring, trench and simulations. We propose that characterization of the RLD profile as a dynamic rhizocanopy effectively describes how the RLD profile arises from interactions among an individual plant, its neighbors, and the pedosphere.