This project is defining the phenotype of cereal crops that have improved nitrogen use efficiency.
Improving the efficiency by which cereal crops utilise nitrogen fertilisers will lead to sustainable agricultural practices globally while minimising input costs and associated environmental pressures. Crucial in determining the efficiency of nitrogen use in plants is the efficiency with which roots acquire nitrogen from soils, how nitrogen is partitioned between and within above- and below-ground organs, and the efficiency with which nitrogen is used in photosynthesis and respiration during vegetative growth. In a series of student projects using cereal crops, we are exploring natural variants in efficiency of nitrogen use, and the underlying physiological factors responsible for variations in N use efficiency. In coming years, we will extend this work to further define at the molecular and biochemical levels why it is that some genotypes of cereals are able to exhibit enhanced N use efficiency.