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A mobile NMR lab for leaf phenotyping in the field

Musse, Maja, Leport, Laurent, Cambert, Mireille, Debrandt, William, Sorin, Clément, Bouchereau, Alain, Mariette, François
Plant methods 2017 v.13 no.1 pp. 53
Brassica napus, canopy, environmental factors, genotype, laboratory experimentation, leaf development, leaves, nitrogen, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, phenotype, physiological state, plant tissues
BACKGROUND: Low field NMR has been used to investigate water status in various plant tissues. In plants grown in controlled conditions, the method was shown to be able to monitor leaf development as it could detect slight variations in senescence associated with structural modifications in leaf tissues. The aim of the present study was to demonstrate the potential of NMR to provide robust indicators of the leaf development stage in plants grown in the field, where leaves may develop less evenly due to environmental fluctuations. The study was largely motivated by the need to extend phenotyping investigations from laboratory experiments to plants in their natural environment. METHODS: The mobile NMR laboratory was developed, enabling characterization of oilseed rape leaves throughout the canopy without uprooting the plant. The measurements made on the leaves of plants grown and analyzed in the field were compared to the measurements on plants grown in controlled conditions and analyzed in the laboratory. RESULTS: The approach demonstrated the potential of the method to assess the physiological status of leaves of plants in their natural environment. Comparing changes in the patterns of NMR signal evolution in plants grown under well-controlled laboratory conditions and in plants grown in the field shows that NMR is an appropriate method to detect structural modifications in leaf tissues during senescence progress despite plant heterogeneity in natural conditions. Moreover, the specific effects of the environmental factors on the structural modifications were revealed. CONCLUSION: The present study is an important step toward the selection of genotypes with high tolerance to water or nitrogen depletion that will be enabled by further field applications of the method.