Investigating Tolerance of Canola Genotypes to Heat and Drought Stresses, and Root Traits Estimation by Electrical Capacitance

Agronomic Practices  Agronomy Research  Canola varieties that do well in water saturated soil  Pre Commercial Variety Assessment  Variety Assessment 
Start Date
End Date
Principal Investigator
Bao-Luo Ma - AAFC - ECORC
Rob Duncan - University of Manitoba
MCGA Funding
Total Project Funding
External Funding Partners
Alberta Canola, SaskCanola, Canola Council of Canada, Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Research Objective

  • Develop an electrical capacitance and impedance method for estimating canola root morphology (root length, root surface area, and volume) 
  • Establish relationships between capacitance-estimated root traits and canola yield, seed oil content (%) and seed protein (%) 
  • Identify the critical period for canola genotypes sensitive to heat stress and the critical temperatures causing flower abortion 
  • Determine usable traits for selection of canola genotypes with better tolerance to heat, drought stresses, and lodging resistance 

Project Description

Roots, as the ‘hidden half’ of the plant, play a central role in acquiring water and nutrients as well as anchoring the plant so it can resist lodging and tolerate heat and drought stresses. Considering the urgent need to achieve sustainable production of canola under changing climatic conditions, it is essential to determine how the root system can mitigate abiotic stress. Given the importance of roots in nutrient and water uptake and plant stability, a fast and robust root assessment method is important to design and implement best management practices for canola crop production. However, root tissues of in-field-grown plants are relatively inaccessible. 


Precise evaluation of a root system is critical in understanding plant growth and response to environmental stresses, and is viewed as essential to developing advanced canola varieties that possess great yield potential and exhibit a high tolerance to abiotic stresses. A number of existing techniques provide root estimation however the techniques require different amounts of labour and plot destruction for sample collection. This study extended the use of the root electrical capacitance method to canola in heat or drought stress, and lodging resistance, which had not been addressed before to measure the root systems and better understand how canola responds in situations with abiotic stress. For results from the project, visit the Full Report link. 

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