Virtual Plants Need Water Too: Functional-Structural Root System Models in the Context of Drought Tolerance Breeding

Ndour, A and Vadez, V and Pradal, C and Lucas, M (2017) Virtual Plants Need Water Too: Functional-Structural Root System Models in the Context of Drought Tolerance Breeding. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8 (1577). pp. 1-18. ISSN 1664-462X

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Developing a sustainable agricultural model is one of the great challenges of the coming years. The agricultural practices inherited from the Green Revolution of the 1960s show their limits today, and new paradigms need to be explored to counter rising issues such as the multiplication of climate-change related drought episodes. Two such new paradigms are the use of functional-structural plant models to complement and rationalize breeding approaches and a renewed focus on root systems as untapped sources of plant amelioration. Since the late 1980s, numerous functional and structural models of root systems were developed and used to investigate the properties of root systems in soil or lab-conditions. In this review, we focus on the conception and use of such root models in the broader context of research on root-driven drought tolerance, on the basis of root system architecture (RSA) phenotyping. Such models result from the integration of architectural, physiological and environmental data. Here, we consider the different phenotyping techniques allowing for root architectural and physiological study and their limits. We discuss how QTL and breeding studies support the manipulation of RSA as a way to improve drought resistance. We then go over the integration of the generated data within architectural models, how those architectural models can be coupled with functional hydraulic models, and how functional parameters can be measured to feed those models. We then consider the assessment and validation of those hydraulic models through confrontation of simulations to experimentations. Finally, we discuss the up and coming challenges facing root systems functional-structural modeling approaches in the context of breeding.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Functional structural plant model, drought, phenotyping, root system architecture, plant development and physiology, breeding, virtual plants, drought tolerance, Root System Phenotyping Methods, sustainable agriculture, plant models
Subjects: Others > Abiotic Stress
Others > Drought Tolerance
Others > Plant Breeding
Others > Drought
Others > Plant Physiology
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 05:09
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2018 09:07
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: This work was funded by IRD (Ph.D. grant to AN), Cirad, the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education and the NewPearl grant funded in the frame of the CERES initiative by Agropolis Fondation (NAF 1301-015, as part of the “Investissement d’avenir” ANR-l0-LABX-0001-0l) and by Fondazione Cariplo (NFC 2013-0891). This work is funded as part of USAID (United States Aid for International Development) SIIL (Sustainable Intensification Innovation Laboratory) Projects in Senegal. This work was conducted in part at the IBC (Institute of Computational Biology) in Montpellier, France.
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