Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349204

Research Project: Strengthening the Analysis Framework of G x E x M under Climate Uncertainty

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Title: Comparative aerial- and ground-based high-throughput phenotyping for the genetic dissection of NDVI as a proxy for drought-adaptive traits in durum wheat

Author
item CONDORELLI, GIUSEPPE - University Of Bologna, Italy
item MACCAFERRI, MARCO - University Of Bologna, Italy
item NEWCOMB, MARIA - University Of Arizona
item ANDRADE-SANCHEZ, PEDRO - University Of Arizona
item White, Jeffrey
item SCIARA, GIUSEPPE - University Of Bologna, Italy
item TUBEROSA, ROBERTO - University Of Bologna, Italy
item French, Andrew

Submitted to: Frontiers in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2018
Publication Date: 6/26/2018
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/6472304
Citation: Condorelli, G.E., Maccaferri, M., Newcomb, M., Andrade-Sanchez, P., White, J.W., Sciara, G., Tuberosa, R., French, A.N. 2018. Comparative aerial- and ground-based high-throughput phenotyping for the genetic dissection of NDVI as a proxy for drought-adaptive traits in durum wheat. Frontiers in Plant Science. 9:893. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00893.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00893

Interpretive Summary: To develop improved cultivars, plant breeders must evaluate large numbers of field plots for multiple traits that affect yield or other agronomic characteristics. Recent advances in sensors and imaging systems provide novel opportunities for high-throughput “phenotyping” (measurement of traits). To understand how different approaches for phenotyping might affect practical applications in crop improvement, a study was undertaken to compare the results obtained with two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) and a tractor-based system. A measure of canopy greenness termed the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was assessed in a panel of 248 elite durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. Durum Desf.) accessions measured at different growth stages and water regimes. Our results suggest the superiority of aerial over tractor-based platforms to detect associations between traits and regions on wheat chromosomes, termed quantitative trait loci (QTLs). For NDVI from the UAV vs. tractor, 28 and 16 single QTLs were detected, respectively, accounting for 89.6 vs. 64.7% of variation in NDVI. Additionally, the durum panel was investigated for leaf chlorophyll content, leaf rolling and dry biomass under terminal drought stress. In total, 46 significant QTLs affected NDVI across platforms, 22 of which showed concomitant effects on leaf greenness, two on leaf rolling and ten on biomass. Among the seven QTL “hotspots” on wheat chromosomes 1A, 2B, 4A, 5A, 5B, 6B and 7A that influenced NDVI and other drought-adaptive traits, six showed effects that were unrelated to crop phenology, making them especially interesting for further study. These results suggest that UAV-based phenotyping is more effective than phenotyping with tractor-based systems, which can help guide decisions of researchers on further system development. Ultimately, this work should enhance the efficiency of breeding of durum wheat and other crops, leading to longer-term benefits for producers and consumers.

Technical Abstract: High-throughput phenotyping platforms (HTPPs) provide novel opportunities to more effectively dissect the genetic basis of drought-adaptive traits. This genome-wide association study (GWAS) compares the results obtained with two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and a ground-based platform used to measure Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in a panel of 248 elite durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. Durum Desf.) accessions measured at different growth stages and water regimes. Our results suggest the superiority of aerial over ground-based platforms to detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for NDVI particularly under terminal drought stress, with 28 and 16 single QTLs detected, respectively, and accounting for 89.6 vs. 64.7% phenotypic variance based on multiple QTL models. Additionally, the durum panel was investigated for leaf chlorophyll content (SPAD), leaf rolling and dry biomass under terminal drought stress. In total, 46 significant QTLs affected NDVI across platforms, 22 of which showed concomitant effects on leaf greenness, two on leaf rolling and ten on biomass. Among the seven QTL hotspots on chromosomes 1A, 2B, 4A, 5A, 5B, 6B and 7A that influenced NDVI and other drought-adaptive traits, six showed per se effects unrelated to phenology.