2021 Volume 71 Issue 1 Pages 3-12
Roots are essential organs for capturing water and nutrients from the soil. In particular, root system architecture (RSA) determines the extent of the region of the soil where water and nutrients can be gathered. As global climate change accelerates, it will be important to improve belowground plant parts, as well as aboveground ones, because roots are front-line organs in the response to abiotic stresses such as drought, flooding, and salinity stress. However, using conventional breeding based on phenotypic selection, it is difficult to select breeding lines possessing promising RSAs to adapted to abiotic stress because roots remain hidden underground. Therefore, new breeding strategies that do not require phenotypic selection are necessary. Recent advances in molecular biology and biotechnology can be applied to the design-oriented breeding of RSA without phenotypic selection. Here I summarize recent progress in RSA ideotypes as “design” and RSA-related gene resources as “materials” that will be needed in leveraging these technologies for the RSA breeding. I also highlight the future challenges to design-oriented breeding of RSA and explore solutions to these challenges.