Date Published:2017 Feb
Abstract:We present a simple and effective high-throughput experimental platform for simultaneous and continuous monitoring of water relations in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum of numerous plants under dynamic environmental conditions. This system provides a simultaneously measured, detailed physiological response profile for each plant in the array, over time periods ranging from a few minutes to the entire growing season, under normal, stress and recovery conditions and at any phenological stage. Three probes for each pot in the array and a specially designed algorithm enable detailed water-relations characterization of whole-plant transpiration, biomass gain, stomatal conductance and root flux. They also enable quantitative calculation of the whole plant water-use efficiency and relative water content at high resolution under dynamic soil and atmospheric conditions. The system has no moving parts and can fit into many growing environments. A screening of 65 introgression lines of a wild tomato species (Solanum pennellii) crossed with cultivated tomato (S. lycopersicum), using our system and conventional gas-exchange tools, confirmed the accuracy of the system as well as its diagnostic capabilities. The use of this high-throughput diagnostic screening method is discussed in light of the gaps in our understanding of the genetic regulation of whole-plant performance, particularly under abiotic stress.