Stress events and resource use


The future climate is expected to become more extreme, particularly in terms of increased heat and drought events. This new series of AGFACE studies will examine nitrogen and water use traits of various wheat, pulse and oilseed lines at elevated CO2 (eCO2), while plants are subjected to drought and heat stress events.

The project will investigate how nitrogen and water use efficiency traits can improve crop productivity and provide improved responses to heat and drought stress in a future high CO2 atmosphere. Field validation of resource use efficiency traits under elevated CO2  assists (pre)breeders in developing selection strategies aimed at realistic future conditions, as part of a broader industry strategy to adapt to future climates and reduce future risk to agricultural production. 

Project outline

Wheat, pulse and canola lines with contrasting resource (nitrogen, water) use traits will be grown under eCO2 in the field. Crop nitrogen and water balance and plant functions determining nitrogen and water use (e.g. stomatal sensitivity, photosynthesis, root architecture, nitrogen uptake and allocation) will be measured. Data will validate crop models and test plant functional modules, such as root growth and stomatal conductance. Response of crops to eCO2 under different soil types in the SoilFACE facility will provide information about impacts of soil factors to eCO2 response.

Effects of short term heat stress imposed at critical crop growth stages on plant function and grain yield of different genotypes will be assessed. Temperature controlled chambers will be placed over crops with different levels of water stress at ambient and eCO2. Timing, duration and magnitude of temperature increases have been chosen to improve simulation model responses and best represent future scenarios.

The data collected will be used to validate and further improve crop modelling, as current simulation models do not reliably capture interactions of eCO2 with heat and drought. Experimental data sets will be prepared for use in several models and made available to the modelling community (e.g. AgMIP and other national and international groups).

Related resources

Titlesort descending Excerpt
AGFACE fact sheet (2014) Fact sheet profiling the project Australian Grains Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment program.
Sabine Tausz-Posch - AGFACE results: Traits Presented by Sabine Tausz-Posch, University of Melbourne, at the AGFACE Crop Science Workshop.