Variation in the Root System Architecture of Peach × (Peach × Almond) Backcrosses

Plants (Basel). 2023 May 3;12(9):1874. doi: 10.3390/plants12091874.


The spatial arrangement and growth pattern of root systems, defined by the root system architecture (RSA), influences plant productivity and adaptation to soil environments, playing an important role in sustainable horticulture. Florida's peach production area covers contrasting soil types, making it necessary to identify rootstocks that exhibit soil-type-specific advantageous root traits. In this sense, the wide genetic diversity of the Prunus genus allows the breeding of rootstock genotypes with contrasting root traits. The evaluation of root traits expressed in young seedlings and plantlets facilitates the early selection of desirable phenotypes in rootstock breeding. Plantlets from three peach × (peach × almond) backcross populations were vegetatively propagated and grown in rhizoboxes. These backcross populations were identified as BC1251, BC1256, and BC1260 and studied in a completely randomized design. Scanned images of the entire root systems of the plantlets were analyzed for total root length distribution by diameter classes, root dry weight by depth horizons, root morphological components, structural root parameters, and root spreading angles. The BC1260 progeny presented a shallower root system and lower root growth. Backcross BC1251 progeny exhibited a more vigorous and deeper root system at narrower root angles, potentially allowing it to explore and exploit water and nutrients in deep sandy entisols from the Florida central ridge.

Keywords: Prunus; rhizotron; root system architecture; rootstock breeding; stem cutting; stone fruit.