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Genetic diversity of root system architecture in response to drought stress in grain legumes

Ye, Heng, Roorkiwal, Manish, Valliyodan, Babu, Zhou, Lijuan, Chen, Pengyin, Varshney, Rajeev K, Nguyen, Henry T
Journal of experimental botany 2018 v.69 no.13 pp. 3267-3277
agronomic traits, climate change, crop production, crops, drought, drought tolerance, food security, genetic improvement, genetic variation, genome, genomics, germplasm, legumes, nutrient content, nutrients, plant adaptation, quantitative trait loci, root systems, water stress
Climate change has increased the occurrence of extreme weather patterns globally, causing significant reductions in crop production, and hence threatening food security. In order to meet the food demand of the growing world population, a faster rate of genetic gains leading to productivity enhancement for major crops is required. Grain legumes are an essential commodity in optimal human diets and animal feed because of their unique nutritional composition. Currently, limited water is a major constraint in grain legume production. Root system architecture (RSA) is an important developmental and agronomic trait, which plays vital roles in plant adaptation and productivity under water-limited environments. A deep and proliferative root system helps extract sufficient water and nutrients under these stress conditions. The integrated genetics and genomics approach to dissect molecular processes from genome to phenome is key to achieve increased water capture and use efficiency through developing better root systems. Success in crop improvement under drought depends on discovery and utilization of genetic variations existing in the germplasm. In this review, we summarize current progress in the genetic diversity in major legume crops, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with RSA, and the importance and applications of recent discoveries associated with the beneficial root traits towards better RSA for enhanced drought tolerance and yield.