Understanding maize growth and development under drought and nitrogen deficiency by functional-structural plant modelling

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
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Project description

Maize is a global staple crop with major stakeholders in industry, but surprisingly many of its secrets on growth and development, in particular in response to environmental constraints that affect yield, remain hidden. High evaporative demand, and low soil water and nitrogen content directly and indirectly affect yield, likely due to competition for resources (water, carbon, nitrogen) between leaf, stem and ears, but the underlying mechanisms and complex interactions are poorly understood. Moreover, crucial knowledge is lacking to fully comprehend how a particular duration and timing of stress with regard to developmental stage affects growth and yield in maize. This project is therefore important and timely because it aims to fill important gaps in our understanding of maize growth and development. In a unique set-up where plant sensors continuously measure the functioning of plants moving in the PHENOVISION plant phenotyping platform, an unparalleled dataset of maize functioning and structure throughout development, and under drought and nitrogen deficiency conditions, will be collected. This comprehensive source of information will be used to build a functional-structural plant model (FSPM) for maize using several novel concepts, and the FSPM will be applied to further our biological knowledge on maize growth and yield potential.