This symposium provides the latest update on root phenomics, physiology, ecology and modelling. We aim at demonstrating the diversity of new opportunities to learn more about this hidden half. We also want to show that influencing root behaviour through unconventional techniques is a promising area for greenhouse and open field cultivation. Finally, we would like to challenge the audience to join forces in producing a white paper or a research proposal on root zone phenomics, physiology and ecology, making use of the combined strengths of One Wageningen.
The concept of the functional equilibrium dictates that when resources that have to be acquired by roots – like water and nutrients – are in short supply, the growth of roots is favoured over the growth of shoots. Similarly, when resources acquired by the shoot – like light and CO2 – are in short supply, the growth of the shoot is favoured over that of the roots. However, root growth and root functioning have received much less attention than shoot growth. Roots are the hidden half, difficult to study directly, and even more difficult to retrieve quantitatively. Moreover, they are not always well represented in crop growth models. However, there are new techniques available for non-destructive root phenotyping, analysing root physiology (e.g. in terms of signalling and stress resistance), while modelling of root architecture is making rapid progress. Moreover, new techniques to assess plant-soil microbe interactions as well as new techniques to condition roots for better performance and higher yields are opening new avenues for more in-depth analysis of shoot-root interactions and for yield improvement. In short, recent research on roots provides exciting new insights in resource capture, stress tolerance, interactions with the soil microbiome and the possibilities to condition roots for yield increases.
Organized by: Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Plant Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, PSG-Phenomics and Automation and Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies, under the auspices of and supported by the C.T. de Wit Graduate School of Production Ecology and Resource Conservation.