M. Bennett: Uncovering the hidden half of crops using advanced root phenotyping pipelines

Bio Information

Malcolm J. Bennett is Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Nottingham. Root biology has been an enduring interest throughout Malcolm’s research career. Over the last three decades his team has characterized many regulatory signals, genes and mechanisms that control root growth and development. Highlights include identifying the first auxin transport protein described in plants termed AUX1 which controls root gravitropism (Bennett et al, 1996, Science) and recently elucidating how plant roots respond to water availability (von Wagenheim et al, 2020, Nature Plants; Orosa et al, 2018, Science).

Recognising the importance of studying root responses in their natural soil environment, Malcolm and colleagues have developed a unique root phenotyping platform termed the Hounsfield Facility to achieve this goal. Recent discoveries include characterization the novel root-water adaptive responses termed hydropatterning (Bao et al, 2014, PNAS) and xerobranching (Orman-Ligeza et al, 2018, Current Biology).

Malcolm has published over 200 research papers and review articles about root growth and development and is ranked in the top 1% most highly cited animal and plant biologists. His research activities have attracted several awards including a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellowship (2013) and election as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO; 2014) and Fellow of the Royal Society (2020).

Presentation Abstract

Understanding the regulation of root architecture in crops is of vital agronomic importance given their importance in foraging for key soil resources. Phenomic approaches are transforming our ability to study root growth and development in crops. I will describe how researchers at Nottingham with our international partners are developing novel interdisciplinary root phenotyping pipelines integrating advanced imaging and deep-learning based image analysis approaches. These innovative pipelines are enabling our team to uncover novel root architecture and anatomical scale traits that contribute to crop performance.


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