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GLO-Roots: an imaging platform enabling multidimensional characterization of soil-grown roots systems

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Rubén Rellán-Álvarez1, 9, Guillaume Lobet2, Heike Lindner1, 8, Pierre-Luc Pradier1, 8, 10, Jose Sebastian1, 8, Muh-Ching Yee1, Yu Geng1, 7, Charlotte Trontin1, Therese LaRue3, Amanda Schrager4, Cara Haney5, Rita Nieu6, Julin Maloof4, John P. Vogel7, José R. Dinneny1,12

Now published in eLIFE:


Root systems develop different root types that individually sense cues from their local environment and integrate this information with systemic signals. This complex multi-dimensional amalgam of inputs enables continuous adjustment of root growth rates, direction and metabolic activity that define a dynamic physical network. Current methods for analyzing root biology balance physiological relevance with imaging capability. To bridge this divide, we developed an integrated imaging system called Growth and Luminescence Observatory for Roots (GLO-Roots) that uses luminescence-based reporters to enable studies of root architecture and gene expression patterns in soil-grown, light-shielded roots. We have developed image analysis algorithms that allow the spatial integration of soil properties such as soil moisture with root traits. We propose GLO-Roots as a system that has great utility in presenting environmental stimuli to roots in ways that evoke natural adaptive responses and in providing tools for studying the multi-dimensional nature of such processes.

1 Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA, USA.

2 PhytoSystems, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.

3 Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

4 Department of Plant Biology, UC Davis, Davis, CA, USA.

5 Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Genetics/Department of Molecular Biology Boston, MA, USA

6 USDA Western Regional Research Center, Albany, CA, USA

7 DOE Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA, USA

8 These authors contributed equally

9 Present address: Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidad (Langebio), Unidad de Genómica Avanzada, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CINVESTAV-IPN), Irapuato, Guanajuato, México

10 Present address: Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research/USDA, Ithaca, NY, USA.

11 Present address: Energy Biosciences Institute, UC, Berkeley, CA, USA

12 Corresponding author