Roots are important to plants for a wide variety of processes, including nutrient and water uptake, anchoring and mechanical support, storage functions, and as the major interface between the plant and various biotic and abiotic factors in the soil environment. Therefore, understanding the development and architecture of roots holds potential for the manipulation of root traits to improve the productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems and to better understand and manage natural ecosystems. While lateral root development is a traceable process along the primary root and different stages can be found along this longitudinal axis of time and development, root system architecture is complex and difficult to quantify. Here, we comment on assays to describe lateral root phenotypes and propose ways to move forward regarding the description of root system architecture, also considering crops and the environment.
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