Experiment: Automated measurement of transpiration under drought: better quinoa varieties with climate resilience

Quinoa is a promising crop with an exceptional drought and salinity tolerance, but genetic variation exists. With the NPEC PlantArray facility we are developing selection protocols to find the most resilient genotypes/varieties. Here we analyse the genetic variation in a mapping population to discover 'quantitative trait loci' (QTLS), DNA markers close to the genes responsible for improved drought tolerance.

Experiment Aim

Although inherent drought tolerance characterises quinoa, genetic variation exists. Here, we implement state-of-the-art technology to increase our understanding of the underlying physiological traits and genetics that allow quinoa to efficiently manage scarce resources like water. The Plantarray 3.0 platform is being use to measure plant growth and transpiration under drought at a very high resolution both in time and space. In this trial we evaluate a mapping population of 160 plants plus their parents. Each of these lines stands in a scale attached to a cutting-edge controller and an irrigation control unit. The weight of each pot is recorded automatically every three minutes. From this data, we can directly calculate the total water use and the transpiration rate, and we can derive the water use efficiency and the stomatal conductance per pot. In this trial we aim to evaluate the genetic diversity and segregation of these traits in the quinoa mapping population, and to identify ‘quantitative trait loci’ (QTLS) close to the genes responsible for these traits which can be incorporated into breeding programs of quinoa and result into improved and more resilient varieties.

NPEC Usage

This research incorporates the high-tech phenotyping technology available in the NPEC greenhouse facilities. In the present study we use a functional phenotyping platform based on mini-lysimeters, the Plantarray 3.0 platform. This platform allows simultaneous and high temporal resolution measurements of water uptake, transpiration and plant growth to expand our understanding of responses to drought in quinoa. In addition, the greenhouse has a mobile unit with RGB, Red Edge and NIR cameras that allows to visualize and measure total leaf area and plant architecture.

Experiment Researchers

This trial is part of the TKI project ‘Faster breeding of new crops for high quality nutrition: quinoa as example and target crop’ of Robert van Loo who is the main researcher and project manager. The project is a collaboration between Wageningen Research and the companies Radicle Crops, Green Food 50 and CCLabs. Other researchers involved in the project are Viviana Jaramillo (guest researcher in the Breeding for Abiotic Stress Tolerance Group), Rick van de Zedde (Greenhouse Technology), Mathijs Peters (junior researcher) and Fotios Palaiochorinos (MSc-student).