Disentangling the Intertwined Genetic Bases of Root and Shoot Growth in ArabidopsisReport as inadecuate

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Root growth and architecture are major components of plant nutrient and water use efficiencies and these traits are the matter of extensive genetic analysis in several crop species. Because root growth relies on exported assimilate from the shoot, and changes in assimilate supply are known to alter root architecture, we hypothesized i that the genetic bases of root growth could be intertwined with the genetic bases of shoot growth and ii that the link could be either positive, with alleles favouring shoot growth also favouring root growth, or negative, because of competition for assimilates. We tested these hypotheses using a quantitative genetics approach in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana and the Bay-0×Shahdara recombinant inbred lines population. In accordance with our hypothesis, root and shoot growth traits were strongly correlated and most root growth quantitative trait loci QTLs colocalized with shoot growth QTLs with positive alleles originating from either the same or the opposite parent. In order to identify regions that could be responsible for root growth independently of the shoot, we generated new variables either based on root to shoot ratios, residuals of root to shoot correlations or coordinates of principal component analysis. These variables showed high heritability allowing genetic analysis. They essentially all yielded similar results pointing towards two regions involved in the root – shoot balance. Using Heterogeneous Inbred Families a kind of near-isogenic lines, we validated part of the QTLs present in these two regions for different traits. Our study thus highlights the difficulty of disentangling intertwined genetic bases of root and shoot growth and shows that this difficulty can be overcome by using simple statistical tools.

Author: Marie Bouteillé, Gaëlle Rolland, Crispulo Balsera, Olivier Loudet, Bertrand Muller

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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