The overall goal of EURoot is to help farmers to face both climate change, which is expected to result in increasingly uneven rainfall, and meet the societal demand for sustainable agriculture with reduced use of water and fertilizers.
EURoot objective is to enhance the cereal plant capability to acquire water and nutrients through their roots and maintain growth and performance under stress conditions. Making use of joint phenotyping and modelling platforms, EURoot will conduct a suite of experiments designed to better understand and model:
- The genetic and functional bases of root traits involved in soil exploration and resource uptake,
- The bio-geochemical properties of the soil, including beneficial association with mycorhizal fungi, influencing extraction of nutrient and water by the root system and
- The plant signalling processes involved in soil environment sensing and responsible for adaptive root system response enhancing soil exploration and resource acquisition.
The EURoot project is based on a tripod of interactive WPs addressing specific complementary questions– i.e. WP1, genetics of root traits, WP2, root:soil interactions, WP3, root : shoot signalling-, and on two platforms WPs allowing to share innovative phenotyping methods relevant to field conditions and linked to crop performance (WP4) and multi scale modelling (WP5) aiming at integrating root architecture, resource dynamics in the soil and root uptake, and inner plant signalling processes, to design root ideotypes allowing enhanced resource acquisition under stress.
Results will be readily translated into screening methods, models and tools (markers, biochemical signatures) to guide the challenging breeding for improved root traits allowing enhanced water and nutrient capture. It will allow the further development of novel cereal cultivars with higher resilience, tolerating erratic rainfalls and reduced fertilizer application, while achieving their yield potential.