Screening of Soybean Genotypes Based on Root Morphology and Shoot Traits Using the Semi-Hydroponic Phenotyping Platform and Rhizobox Technique

Mohammad Salim, Yinglong Chen, Heng Ye, Henry T. Nguyen, Zakaria M. Solaiman, Kadambot H. M. Siddique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Root-system architecture is vital for improving soybean (Glycine max L.) growth and nutrient uptake. We characterised root-system architecture and shoot traits of 30 soybean genotypes in a semi-hydroponic system 35 days after sowing (DAS) and validated eight genotypes with contrasting root-system architecture in 1.5 m-deep rhizoboxes at the flowering stage. Among them, two genotypes were selected for evaluation through to maturity. Abundant variation (coefficient of variation values ≥ 0.25) was observed in 11 of 13 measured roots and shoot traits during the early growth stage. After late growth stages, strong positive correlations were found between root traits and shoot traits, except for specific root length and diameter. Seed yield and yield traits at final harvest significantly differed between two contrasting soybean genotypes. The large-rooted genotype had a higher harvest index than the small-rooted genotype. Soybean genotypes with larger root systems had a long time to flowering than those with smaller root systems. Genotypes with large-root systems had 106% more leaf area, and 245% more shoot dry weight than those with small systems, presumably due to high canopy photosynthesis to supply the demand for carbon assimilates to roots. Total root length, and root: shoot ratio-traits data collected in the rhizobox study, strongly correlated with the same traits in the semi-hydroponic phenotyping system. We found genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in other root and shoot traits such as taproot depth, root dry weight, specific root length, and average root diameter among the tested genotypes. Phenology, particularly time to flowering, was associated with root system size. Some root and shoot traits in the semi-hydroponic phenotyping system at the seedling stage produced similar rankings at the later phenological (flowering) stage when grown in the soil-filled rhizoboxes. The soybean genotypes characterised by vastly different root traits could be used for further glasshouse and field studies to improve adaptation to drought and other specific environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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