Identifying mechanisms limiting deep water uptake in barley during drought

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Camilla Ruø Rasmussen


UCLouvain, Belgium


DKK 1,289,873




Reintegration Fellowships


What: Deeper rooting crop cultivars have access to deep stored soil moisture unavailable to more shallow-rooted cultivars. However, it appears that the presence of deep roots in moist soil does not necessarily ensure full water supply and prevent drought stress. Thus, there is a need to identify the limiting factors for deep water uptake to improve drought tolerance.


Why: The world's major crop-producing areas suffer from both more frequent and severe drought stress due to accelerating climatic changes. The efficient and sustainable use of water for crop production is a multifaceted task and the approaches must be closely aligned with the specific drought challenge. Climate change in large parts of Europe will lead to lower precipitation levels in the growing season and higher outside the growing season. This imbalance can be leveled out by utilizing previous surplus precipitation stored deep in the soil profile. In short: Growing summer crops on winter precipitation!


How: I hypothesize that deep water uptake is limited by either root hydraulic conductance or by a hormonal response to drought. To investigate the relative importance of the two hypothesized mechanisms I will combine field experiments where I monitor plant responses to drought and characterize root hydraulic properties with detailed mechanistic model simulations of hydraulic and hormonal responses to topsoil drought. Identifying the limiting factor for the utilization of deep soil moisture would be groundbreaking for breeding the next generation of drought-resilient crops.

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