Acquired Traits Contribute More to Drought Tolerance in Wheat Than in Rice

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 Journal profile

The open access journal Plant Phenomics, published in association with NAU, publishes novel research that advances plant phenotyping and connects phenomics with other research domains.

 Editorial Board

Plant Phenomics' editorial board is led by Seishi Ninomiya (University of Tokyo), Frédéric Baret (French National Institute of Agricultural Research), and Zong-Ming Cheng (Nanjing Agricultural University/University of Tennessee) and is comprised of leading experts in the field.

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• Rapid publication: We use the best systems and processes to ensure efficiency and quality.

• Open access: Articles are free to publish through 2021 and will always be free to read for everyone.

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Research Article

Soybean Root System Architecture Trait Study through Genotypic, Phenotypic, and Shape-Based Clusters

We report a root system architecture (RSA) traits examination of a larger scale soybean accession set to study trait genetic diversity. Suffering from the limitation of scale, scope, and susceptibility to measurement variation, RSA traits are tedious to phenotype. Combining 35,448 SNPs with an imaging phenotyping platform, 292 accessions ( ) were studied for RSA traits to decipher the genetic diversity. Based on literature search for root shape and morphology parameters, we used an ideotype-based approach to develop informative root (iRoot) categories using root traits. The RSA traits displayed genetic variability for root shape, length, number, mass, and angle. Soybean accessions clustered into eight genotype- and phenotype-based clusters and displayed similarity. Genotype-based clusters correlated with geographical origins. SNP profiles indicated that much of US origin genotypes lack genetic diversity for RSA traits, while diverse accession could infuse useful genetic variation for these traits. Shape-based clusters were created by integrating convolution neural net and Fourier transformation methods, enabling trait cataloging for breeding and research applications. The combination of genetic and phenotypic analyses in conjunction with machine learning and mathematical models provides opportunities for targeted root trait breeding efforts to maximize the beneficial genetic diversity for future genetic gains.

Research Article

Ground-Based LiDAR Improves Phenotypic Repeatability of Above-Ground Biomass and Crop Growth Rate in Wheat

Highly repeatable, nondestructive, and high-throughput measures of above-ground biomass (AGB) and crop growth rate (CGR) are important for wheat improvement programs. This study evaluates the repeatability of destructive AGB and CGR measurements in comparison to two previously described methods for the estimation of AGB from LiDAR: 3D voxel index (3DVI) and 3D profile index (3DPI). Across three field experiments, contrasting in available water supply and comprising up to 98 wheat genotypes varying for canopy architecture, several concurrent measurements of LiDAR and AGB were made from jointing to anthesis. Phenotypic correlations at discrete events between AGB and the LiDAR-derived biomass indices were significant, ranging from 0.31 ( ) to 0.86 ( ), providing confidence in the LiDAR indices as effective surrogates for AGB. The repeatability of the LiDAR biomass indices at discrete events was at least similar to and often higher than AGB, particularly under water limitation. The correlations between calculated CGR for AGB and the LiDAR indices were moderate to high and varied between experiments. However, across all experiments, the repeatabilities of the CGR derived from the LiDAR indices were appreciably greater than those for AGB, except for the 3DPI in the water-limited environment. In our experiments, the repeatability of either LiDAR index was consistently higher than that of AGB, both at discrete time points and when CGR was calculated. These findings provide promising support for the reliable use of ground-based LiDAR, as a surrogate measure of AGB and CGR, for screening germplasm in research and wheat breeding.

Research Article

Semisupervised Deep State-Space Model for Plant Growth Modeling

The optimal control of sugar content and its associated technology is important for producing high-quality crops more stably and efficiently. Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) indicates a desirable action depending on the type of situation based on trial-and-error calculations conducted by an environmental model. In this paper, we address plant growth modeling as an environmental model for the optimal control of sugar content. In the growth process, fruiting plants generate sugar depending on their state and evolve via various external stimuli; however, sugar content data are sparse because appropriate remote sensing technology is yet to be developed, and thus, sugar content is measured manually. We propose a semisupervised deep state-space model (SDSSM) where semisupervised learning is introduced into a sequential deep generative model. SDSSM achieves a high generalization performance by optimizing the parameters while inferring unobserved data and using training data efficiently, even if some categories of training data are sparse. We designed an appropriate model combined with model-based RL for the optimal control of sugar content using SDSSM for plant growth modeling. We evaluated the performance of SDSSM using tomato greenhouse cultivation data and applied cross-validation to the comparative evaluation method. The SDSSM was trained using approximately 500 sugar content data of appropriately inferred plant states and reduced the mean absolute error by approximately 38% compared with other supervised learning algorithms. The results demonstrate that SDSSM has good potential to estimate time-series sugar content variation and validate uncertainty for the optimal control of high-quality fruit cultivation using model-based RL.


Computing on Phenotypic Descriptions for Candidate Gene Discovery and Crop Improvement

Many newly observed phenotypes are first described, then experimentally manipulated. These language-based descriptions appear in both the literature and in community datastores. To standardize phenotypic descriptions and enable simple data aggregation and analysis, controlled vocabularies and specific data architectures have been developed. Such simplified descriptions have several advantages over natural language: they can be rigorously defined for a particular context or problem, they can be assigned and interpreted programmatically, and they can be organized in a way that allows for semantic reasoning (inference of implicit facts). Because researchers generally report phenotypes in the literature using natural language, curators have been translating phenotypic descriptions into controlled vocabularies for decades to make the information computable. Unfortunately, this methodology is highly dependent on human curation, which does not scale to the scope of all publications available across all of plant biology. Simultaneously, researchers in other domains have been working to enable computation on natural language. This has resulted in new, automated methods for computing on language that are now available, with early analyses showing great promise. Natural language processing (NLP) coupled with machine learning (ML) allows for the use of unstructured language for direct analysis of phenotypic descriptions. Indeed, we have found that these automated methods can be used to create data structures that perform as well or better than those generated by human curators on tasks such as predicting gene function and biochemical pathway membership. Here, we describe current and ongoing efforts to provide tools for the plant phenomics community to explore novel predictions that can be generated using these techniques. We also describe how these methods could be used along with mobile speech-to-text tools to collect and analyze in-field spoken phenotypic descriptions for association genetics and breeding applications.

Research Article

Nondestructive 3D Image Analysis Pipeline to Extract Rice Grain Traits Using X-Ray Computed Tomography

The traits of rice panicles play important roles in yield assessment, variety classification, rice breeding, and cultivation management. Most traditional grain phenotyping methods require threshing and thus are time-consuming and labor-intensive; moreover, these methods cannot obtain 3D grain traits. In this work, based on X-ray computed tomography, we proposed an image analysis method to extract twenty-two 3D grain traits. After 104 samples were tested, the values between the extracted and manual measurements of the grain number and grain length were 0.980 and 0.960, respectively. We also found a high correlation between the total grain volume and weight. In addition, the extracted 3D grain traits were used to classify the rice varieties, and the support vector machine classifier had a higher recognition accuracy than the stepwise discriminant analysis and random forest classifiers. In conclusion, we developed a 3D image analysis pipeline to extract rice grain traits using X-ray computed tomography that can provide more 3D grain information and could benefit future research on rice functional genomics and rice breeding.

Research Article

Evaluating and Mapping Grape Color Using Image-Based Phenotyping

Grape berry color is an economically important trait that is controlled by two major genes influencing anthocyanin synthesis in the skin. Color is often described qualitatively using six major categories; however, this is a subjective rating that often fails to describe variation within these six classes. To investigate minor genes influencing berry color, image analysis was used to quantify berry color using different color spaces. An image analysis pipeline was developed and utilized to quantify color in a segregating hybrid wine grape population across two years. Images were collected from grape clusters immediately after harvest and segmented by color to determine the red, green, and blue (RGB); hue, saturation, and intensity (HSI); and lightness, red-green, and blue-yellow values ( ) of berries. QTL analysis identified known major QTL for color on chromosome 2 along with several previously unreported smaller-effect QTL on chromosomes 1, 5, 6, 7, 10, 15, 18, and 19. This study demonstrated the ability of an image analysis phenotyping system to characterize berry color and to more effectively capture variability within a population and identify genetic regions of interest.