The relationships between seedling root screens, root growth in the field and grain yield for wheat

Background and aims

We were interested to know if laboratory screens of root growth could be used to predict root performance and grain yield of wheat when grown in the field. A secondary aim of this work was to explore the relationship between root depth and grain yield.


We screened 637 wheat lines, composed of elite as well as a limited number of breeding lines, to identify wheat lines with contrasting young root traits with a high throughput screen. We selected groups of wheat lines based on the size of the seedling root, root diameter and growth angle. Seventy-two wheat lines were subjected to further screening with a wax-layer screen and grown in a field experiment in two successive years. Root length distributions, from field grown wheat, were determined with the core-break method.


We were unable to find relationships between data from the laboratory root screens and root depth in the field. In the field, wheat lines with deep roots always had high grain yields, but deep roots were not essential to obtain high yields. Wheat lines with the deepest roots were also amongst those with the greatest number of shallow roots.


Laboratory root screens did not predict root depth in the field. Root diameter, for reasons that are not clear, is correlated with high grain yield.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
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Article Host Type publisher
Article Is Open Access true
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Citation Report
DFW Organisation RRes
DFW Work Package 1
DOI 10.1007/s11104-019-04088-9
Date Last Updated 2019-07-29T14:32:07.915952
Evidence oa repository (via OAI-PMH title and first author match)
Journal Is Open Access false
Open Access Status bronze
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