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J Integr Plant Biol. 2016 May;58(5):475-91. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12378. Epub 2015 Sep 25.

Evaluation of high yielding soybean germplasm under water limitation.

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National Center for Soybean Biotechnology and Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA.


Limited information is available for soybean root traits and their plasticity under drought stress. To date, no studies have focused on examining diverse soybean germplasm for regulation of shoot and root response under water limited conditions across varying soil types. In this study, 17 genetically diverse soybean germplasm lines were selected to study root response to water limited conditions in clay (trial 1) and sandy soil (trial 2) in two target environments. Physiological data on shoot traits was measured at multiple crop stages ranging from early vegetative to pod filling. The phenotypic root traits, and biomass accumulation data are collected at pod filling stage. In trial 1, the number of lateral roots and forks were positively correlated with plot yield under water limitation and in trial 2, lateral root thickness was positively correlated with the hill plot yield. Plant Introduction (PI) 578477A and 088444 were found to have higher later root number and forks in clay soil with higher yield under water limitation. In sandy soil, PI458020 was found to have a thicker lateral root system and higher yield under water limitation. The genotypes identified in this study could be used to enhance drought tolerance of elite soybean cultivars through improved root traits specific to target environments.


Fibrous root; root angle; root plasticity; root system architecture (RSA); root thickness; soybean; spectral indices; total root length; water limitation

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