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Yield improvement of oilseed rape through genetic manipulation of rhizosphere exudation

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Field of rape with pods insetThe aim of this BBSRC Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC) funded work is to elucidate the genetic control of rhizodeposition in oilseed rape (OSR) and assess the effects of identified genes on rhizodeposition, soil miocrobiology and function and crop yield.

The roots of healthy plants naturally pass large amounts of carbon into the soil as organic rhizodeposits, predominantly in the form of soluble organic acids, carbohydrates and amino acids. These rhizodeposits not only represent a net carbon loss to the growing plant, they also directly influence soil structure and function and massively stimulate microbes in the the soil surrounding the plant roots (the rhizosphere).

Using a range of cutting-edge technologies such as NMR and mass spectrometry, metabolomic profiling, FT-ICR, high throughput sequencing, transcriptomics and metagenomics, this project will:roots

  • Determine variation in the quantity & composition of rhizodeposits in different OSR lines at different developmental stages.
  • Identify and map quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with variation in rhizodeposition in OSR and identify flanking genetic markers that may be useful in breeding programmes.
  • Identify candidate genes underlying identified QTL.
  • Assess impact of variation in rhizodeposition on rhizosphere microbial diversity and function.
  • Assess any impact of the QTL associated with variation in rhizodepositon on seed yield.

The potential to engineer rhizosphere soil structure, function and microbiology by breeding-based manipulation of rhizodeposition opens up exciting possibilities even in agricultural systems that are managed to maximise production: Potential benefits may include reduced input agriculture through improved nitrogen and phosphorus availability, soil structure, water retention capabilities; natural protection against pests and pathogens and increased tolerance to potentially toxic metals.

For more information please contact Dr. Gary Bending, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL UK
Telephone +44 (0)2476 575057 Email Gary dot Bending at warwick dot ac dot uk




warwick crop centre

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Life Sciences

Gary Bending - (Project lead)
Paul Hunter



Systems Biology

Graham Teakle Dave Pink

MeT-RO Centre

Mike Beale
Jane Ward

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