Phenotyping in Arabidopsis and Crops—Are We Addressing the Same Traits? A Case Study in Tomato


The convenient model Arabidopsis thaliana has allowed tremendous advances in plant genetics and physiology, in spite of only being a weed. It has also unveiled the main molecular networks governing, among others, abiotic stress responses. Through the use of the latest genomic tools, Arabidopsis research is nowadays being translated to agronomically interesting crop models such as tomato, but at a lagging pace. Knowledge transfer has been hindered by invariable differences in plant architecture and behaviour, as well as the divergent direct objectives of research in Arabidopsis versus crops compromise transferability. In this sense, phenotype translation is still a very complex matter. Here, we point out the challenges of “translational phenotyping” in the case study of drought stress phenotyping in Arabidopsis and tomato. After briefly defining and describing drought stress and survival strategies, we compare drought stress protocols and phenotyping techniques most commonly used in the two species, and discuss their potential to gain insights, which are truly transferable between species. This review is intended to be a starting point for discussion about translational phenotyping approaches among plant scientists, and provides a useful compendium of methods and techniques used in modern phenotyping for this specific plant pair as a case study.