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Scaled-Up Effervescence-Revised Fine Root Extraction Device (SUPER FRED) for Crop Phenotyping

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801705.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801705)
Authors:   Tamás Varga, Samadangla Ao, Michael P. Russelle, Jeffrey A. Coulter, Anne E. Sawyer
Keywords:   crop phenotyping, field-grown plant roots, maize, switchgrass, rhizosphere.


Characterization of root growth is a key component of crop phenotyping. Root length and root mass densities are important traits for assessing growth response to water and nutrient availability or quantify habitat availability for rhizosphere microbes. A scaled-up effervescence-revised (SUPER) version of a previously developed fine root extraction device (FRED) was created to process large (approximately 2 kg) soil samples at a rapid pace. The requirement of the SUPER FRED was to provide uniform effervescence to gently separate roots from loamy sand, loam, and clay loam soils. Construction material cost was approximately $100. The device was first tested and used to phenotype maize (Zea mays L.) grown in loamy sand soil, with the objective of quantifying root length density. The device recovered roots as fine as 0.05 mm in diameter. The SUPER FRED was also used to quantify root mass density in two studies investigating rhizosphere microbial community structure in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). Average processing time for a sample was about 25 min. In all cases the SUPER FRED enabled rapid extraction of fine roots and resulted in data that were useful for statistical analyses which produced results confirming those from published research.

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