Plant root system architecture (RSA) has an important role in crop production, particularly for water and nutrient uptake under limiting conditions. In the last few years, several root phenotyping methods have been developed. Here we present a new technique which has been developed for non-destructive, inexpensive and high-throughput root growth studies and RSA analyses. To illustrate the potential applications, this method was tested in an experiment with nitrogen and phosphorous deficiencies in a nutrient solution, affecting RSA parameters of two spring barley varieties (Bojos and Barke). This technique is based on root growth on vertically positioned black filter paper (30 × 60 cm) placed between two black plastic (PVC-P) foils and micro-irrigation systems providing the recirculation of nutrient solution. The pre-germinated seeds were placed in the slit between two plastic bars which carry the filter paper and plastic sheets and fix the plant in the vertical position. This system allows easy repeated non-invasive access to roots for their measuring and sampling. Eighteen days after transplanting the root imaging was done using an RGB digital camera. To evaluate the root architecture parameters the “SmartRoot” software was used. The results revealed that the system is able to detect changes in RSA which are caused mainly by P deficiency (particularly changes in lateral root length and total root area). It can be concluded that this technique has a great potential for non-destructive root growth studies, RSA measurement and root sampling.
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