Correlations between juvenile wheat root traits, and grain yield and yield component traits under optimal field conditions have previously been reported in some conditions. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that juvenile wheat root traits correlate with yield, yield components and grain mineral composition traits under a range of soil environments in India. A diverse panel of 36 Indian wheat genotypes were grown for ten days in ‘pouch and wick’ high-throughput phenotyping (HTP) system (20 replicates). Correlations between juvenile root architecture traits, including primary and lateral root length, and grain yield, yield components and grain mineral composition traits were determined, using field data from previously published experiments at six sites in India. Only a limited number of juvenile root traits correlated with grain yield (GYD), yield components, and grain mineral composition traits. A narrow root angle, potentially representing a ‘steep’ phenotype, was associated with increased GYD and harvest index (HI) averaged across sites and years. Length related root traits were not correlated with GYD or HI at most sites, however, the total length of lateral roots and lateral root number correlated with GYD at a sodic site of pH 9.5. The total length of lateral roots (TLLR) correlated with grain zinc (Zn) concentration at one site. A wider root angle, representing a shallow root system, correlated with grain iron (Fe) concentration at most sites. The total length of all roots (TLAR) and total length of primary roots (TLPR) correlated with grain S concentration at most sites. Narrow root angle in juvenile plants could be a useful proxy trait for screening germplasm for improved grain yield. Lateral root and shallow root traits could potentially be used to improve grain mineral concentrations. The use of juvenile root traits should be explored further in wheat breeding for diverse environments.
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