Can we predict the final size of maize plants?

Although several approaches to identify genes and networks involved in final organ size have been proven successful, our understanding remains fragmentary. The variation in 103 lines of the Zea mays B73xH99 RIL population was assessed for a set of final leaf size and whole shoot traits at the seedling stage, complemented with measurements capturing growth dynamics, and cellular measurements. Most traits correlated well with the size of the division zone, implying that the molecular basis of final leaf size is already defined in dividing cells of growing leaves. Correlation analysis of the transcriptome of growing leaves with mature leaf parameters allowed to identify genes and processes correlated with the specific traits. Untangling complex traits such as leaf size by applying in-depth phenotyping allows to define the relative contributions of the components and their mutual associations, facilitating dissection of the biological processes and regulatory networks underneath.

Baute J, Herman D, Coppens F, De Block J, Slabbinck B, Dell’Acqua M et al. (2015) Correlation analysis of the transcriptome of growing leaves with mature leaf parameters in a maize RIL population. Genome Biol. doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0735-9.

Joke Baute presented these scientific findings on national television. watch the video (Dutch only)

EMBO practical course on plant phenotyping @ VIB

From 13 – 19 September VIB – Ghent University, Université Catholique de Louvain, and Université de Liège joined forces in organizing an EMBO practical course entitled “Insights into plant biological processes through phenotyping” in Ghent, Belgium. This EMBO Practical Course discussed and demonstrated the multiple and diverse aspects of plant phenotyping, covering the cell to whole plant scale, and including growth-related, as well as physiological and performance-related plant traits. A great group of 25 selected participants enjoyed the practical sessions and the talks of 31 international speakers. Through hands-on-experience and interactive demonstrations, the participants obtained the required practical knowledge to perform plant phenotyping in their institutes of origin and have a concrete idea about the requirements and management of simple and advanced phenotyping platforms, in case they require developing or purchasing one themselves. Of course, also the automated WIWAM phenotyping platforms came in the picture.