Impacts of G x E x M on Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat and Future Prospects

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Hawkesford, M. J. and Riche, A. B. 2020. Impacts of G x E x M on Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat and Future Prospects. Frontiers in Plant Science. 11, p. 1157.

AuthorsHawkesford, M. J. and Riche, A. B.

Globally it has been estimated that only one third of applied N is recovered in the harvested component of grain crops (Raun and Johnson 1999). This represents an incredible waste of resource and the overuse has detrimental environmental and economic consequences. There is substantial variation in nutrient use efficiency (NUE) from region to region, between crops and in different cropping systems. As a consequence, both local and crop specific solutions will be required for NUE improvement at local as well as at national and international levels. Strategies to improve NUE will involve improvements to germplasm and optimized agronomy adapted to climate and location. Essential to effective solutions will be an understanding of genetics (G), environment (E) and management (M) and their interactions (G x E x M). To implement appropriate solutions will require agronomic management, attention to environmental factors and improved varieties, optimized for current and future climate scenarios. As NUE is a complex trait with many contributing processes, identifying the correct trait for improvement is not trivial. Key processes include nitrogen capture (uptake efficiency), utilization efficiency (closely related to yield), partitioning (harvest index: biochemical and organ-specific) and trade-offs between yield and quality aspects (grain nitrogen content), as well as interactions with capture and utilization of other nutrients. A long-term experiment, the Broadbalk experiment at Rothamsted, highlights many factors influencing yield and nitrogen utilization in wheat over the last 175 years, particularly management and yearly variation. A more recent series of trials conducted over the past 16 years has focused on separating the key physiological sub-traits of NUE, highlighting both genetic and seasonal variation. This perspective describes these two contrasting studies which indicate G x E x M interactions involved in nitrogen utilization and summarizes prospects for the future including the utilization of high throughput phenotyping technology.

KeywordsWheat; G x E x M; Nitrogen use efficiency; Yield; Long-term experiments; Phenotyping
Year of Publication2020
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Journal citation11, p. 1157
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat - WP1 - Increased efficiency and sustainability
The Wheat Genetic Improvement Network (WGIN) - Improving the environmental footprint of farming through crop genetics and targeted traits analysis
The Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online29 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Jul 2020
PublisherFrontiers Media SA

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