Nitrogen use efficiency in forage grasses and oats

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: IBERS

Abstract

Here we extend the N cycle to the uptake of N by other components of the sustainable land-use system, two important options of which are uptake by a forage grass or by a cereal, either as companion or successional species. The cereal species will be oats, which has high nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). We will seek improved understanding of the genetic control of NUE in particular through use of advanced phenotyping methods and QTL mapping in parallel with transcriptomic approaches. Candidate genes will be validated in a range of materials. Genes for improved NUE are required to improve crop sustainability requiring reduced need for supplementary fertiliser input and thereby decreased impact of nitrate pollution on water quality. Improving the NUE of crops is an important target for sustainable land use, enabling reduced fertiliser applications and environmental losses of nitrogen. Nitrogen is available to plants both as mineral (NH4+ and NO3- ) and, particularly under low input conditions, organic forms of N. Genetic variation both for nitrogen uptake and use has been identified in ryegrass and will also be sought from fescue. Similarly, considerable genetic variation exists for response of oats to nitrogen application. A better understanding of the genes determining the NUE of different forms of N will assist in the marker-assisted selection of genetic material for sustainable systems

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