Measuring variation in potato roots in both field and glasshouse: the search for useful yield predictors and a simple screen for root traits

Jane Wishart, Timothy S. George, Lawrie K. Brown, Gavin Ramsay, John E. Bradshaw, Philip J. White, Peter J. Gregory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    70 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims ; Potatoes have an inadequate rooting system for efficient acquisition of water and minerals and use disproportionate amounts of irrigation and fertilizer. This research determines whether significant variation in rooting characteristics of potato exists, which characters correlate with final yield and whether a simple screen for rooting traits could be developed.

    Methods;  Twenty-eight genotypes of Solanum tuberosum groups Tuberosum and Phureja were grown in the field; eight replicate blocks to final harvest, while entire root systems were excavated from four blocks. Root classes were categorised and measured. The same measurements were made on these genotypes in the glasshouse, 2 weeks post emergence.

    Results ; In the field, total root length varied from 40 m to 112 m per plant. Final yield was correlated negatively with basal root specific root length and weakly but positively with total root weight. Solanum tuberosum group Phureja genotypes had more numerous roots and proportionally more basal than stolon roots compared with Solanum tuberosum, group Tuberosum genotypes. There were significant correlations between glasshouse and field measurements.

    Conclusions;  Our data demonstrate that variability in rooting traits amongst commercially available potato genotypes exists and a robust glasshouse screen has been developed. By measuring potato roots as described in this study, it is now possible to assess rooting traits of large populations of potato genotypes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-249
    Number of pages19
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • FOOD
    • SYSTEM
    • Delta carbon
    • Sustainability
    • Water
    • PLANT
    • Root
    • Solanum tuberosum L. group Tuberosum
    • GROWTH
    • Solanum tuberosum group Phureja


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