BREAD PHENO: High Throughput Phenotyping Early Stage Root Bulking in Cassava using Ground Penetrating Radar Grant uri icon


  • Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a tropical root crop with exceptional drought tolerance, making it a critical component of food security for 800 million people in tropical regions of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Despite its importance, cassava''s current 12 to 24 month crop cycle limits the economic prosperity of smallholder farmers due to the length of time between harvest cycles. Identifying new cassava varieties that bulk roots early in the crop cycle is an essential solution to overcome this time constraint. Selection for an early root bulking trait, however, is currently limited because it requires destructive digging of roots, unmanageable breeding trial sizes, and large labor costs. This project will improve trait selection by adapting a technology from geophysics called ground-penetrating radar to produce three-dimensional quantifiable images of cassava roots non-destructively. Using ground-penetrating radar, early bulking root masses can be imaged underground. The goal is to select for cassava varieties that increase cassava yields by 25 to 50% by selecting early stage root bulking from existing high yielding genotypes. The development of a commercial ground-penetrating radar instrument and associated data processing software for selecting early stage root bulking in cassava will provide cassava breeders throughout the world with the tools needed to develop new higher yielding cultivars.Cassava is a tropical root crop that is exceptionally adapted to drought tolerance but has a prolonged life cycle of 12 to 24 months. This long duration limits harvest capabilities for smallholder farmers in the developing world, thus reducing the benefits of the crop as a component of global food security. Overcoming this limitation through selection of new cassava cultivars that exhibit early stage root bulking (ESRB) is an essential solution to ensure continued food security. This project will adapt ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to non-destructively develop 3-dimensional (3-D) quantifiable images of cassava roots. Current GPR instruments and analytical software are designed for subsurface imaging but not necessarily adapted for crop research. This project will use uncoupled GPR transmitters and antenna and an in vitro cassava trough assay system to develop an accurate and cost effective GPR instrument design for cassava breeding in terms of central frequencies emitted and antenna geometries. Ancillary soil matrix data will be combined to allow the development of broadband GPR filter processes of root versus soil matrix specific frequencies, derive root allometries, and begin to convert the individual data processing methods into a streamlined decision support software for ESRB selection. In the long term, the aim is to increase yield by 25 to 50% via GPR-based selection of ESRB from existing high yielding genotypes. The project will ultimately develop an ideal GPR instrument and an easy to use streamlined data processing and decision support software needed by cassava breeders to develop higher yielding early bulking cassava cultivars.

date/time interval

  • 2016 - 2020