Brace roots, as predicted by their name, are suggested to play an important role in structural stability, but it remains unclear how much they contribute to stability and/or other physiological processes such as water and nutrient uptake.
We hypothesize that brace roots provide structural support, however it is unclear what features of brace roots are important for stability. We are developing ground-based phenotyping platforms and mechanical testing protocols to test the role of brace roots in stability. Further, we are developing greenhouse-based growth systems (i.e. hydroponics and rhizoboxes) to begin to understand how brace roots contribute to plant physiology.
Funding: University of Delaware Research Foundation; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Thomas Jefferson Fund; Delaware Biosciences CAT Grant
Erndwein LE, Ganji E, Killian ME and Sparks EE. “Comparative biomechanical characterization of maize brace roots within and between plants” BioRxiv, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1101/547794