Altering root system architecture is considered a method of improving crop water and soil nutrient capture. The analysis of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for root traits has revealed inconsistency in the same population evaluated in different environments. It must be clarified if this is due to genotype x environment interaction or considerations of statistics if the value of QTLs for marker-assisted breeding is to be estimated. A modified split-plot design was used where a main plot corresponded to a separate experiment. The main plot factor had four treatments (environments), which were completely randomized among eight trials, so that each treatment was replicated twice. The sub-plot factor consisted of 168 recombinant inbreed lines of the Bala x Azucena rice mapping population, randomly allocated to the seven soil-filled boxes. The aim of the trial was to quantify QTL x environment interaction. The treatments were chosen to alter partitioning to roots; consisting of a control treatment (high-soil nitrogen, high light and high-water content) and further treatments where light, soil nitrogen or soil water was reduced singly. After 4 weeks growth, maximum root length (MRL), maximum root thickness, root mass below 50 cm, total plant dry mass (%), root mass and shoot length were measured. The treatments affected plant growth as predicted; low nitrogen and drought increased relative root partitioning, low-light decreased it. The parental varieties Bala and Azucena differed significantly for all traits. Broad-sense heritability of most traits was high (57-86%). Variation due to treatment was the most important influence on the variance, while genotype was next. Genotype x environment interaction was detected for all traits except MRL, although the proportion of variation due to this interaction was generally small. It is concluded that genotype x environment interaction is present but less important than genotypic variation. A companion paper presents QTL x environment analysis of data.
- ORYZA-SATIVA L
- GENETIC DISSECTION