Digital imaging approaches for phenotyping whole plant nitrogen and phosphorus response in Brachypodium distachyon

Richard Poiré, Vincent Chochois, Xavier R.R. Sirault, John P. Vogel, Michelle Watt, Robert T. Furbank*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


This work evaluates the phenotypic response of the model grass (Brachypodium distachyon (L.) P. Beauv.) to nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition using a combination of imaging techniques and destructive harvest of shoots and roots. Reference line Bd21-3 was grown in pots using 11 phosphorus and 11 nitrogen concentrations to establish a dose-response curve. Shoot biovolume and biomass, root length and biomass, and tissue phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations increased with nutrient concentration. Shoot biovolume, estimated by imaging, was highly correlated with dry weight (R2>0.92) and both biovolume and growth rate responded strongly to nutrient availability. Higher nutrient supply increased nodal root length more than other root types. Photochemical efficiency was strongly reduced by low phosphorus concentrations as early as 1 week after germination, suggesting that this measurement may be suitable for high throughput screening of phosphorus response. In contrast, nitrogen concentration had little effect on photochemical efficiency. Changes in biovolume over time were used to compare growth rates of four accessions in response to nitrogen and phosphorus supply. We demonstrate that a time series image-based approach coupled with mathematical modeling provides higher resolution of genotypic response to nutrient supply than traditional destructive techniques and shows promise for high throughput screening and determination of genomic regions associated with superior nutrient use efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-796
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Integrative Plant Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


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