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Work package 2: Understanding crop and microbiome responses to combined water and nutrient limitations

Work package 2 will determine the traits influencing (i) resource acquisition (below-ground dynamics of soil exploration by roots and leveraging of microbial activity, including that of root symbionts) and (ii) resource utilisation (above- ground growth and resource allocation), as well as their interactions, through phenotyping under combined realistic limitations of water and nutrients (as defined in Work package 1) in high-throughput platforms, as well as through the implementation of novel modelling solutions, including Functional Structural Plant Models (FSPM) and CSM. Phenotyping for yield and yield-related traits will also be conducted in semi-field and field trials involving optimal conditions and combined limitations of water and nutrients for large panels of genotypes as needed for genetic analyses in Work package 4. This will enable the SolACE consortium to draw links between crop performance, above- and below-ground traits, including the root-associated beneficial microbiome, involved in the response to combined water and nutrient stresses. Finally, Work package 2 will evaluate the functioning of novel genotypes (e.g. hybrid wheat and potato) produced in Work package 4 to validate the implemented breeding process and/or stacking of traits in those genotypes.


Work package 2 will measure and model the responses of potato, bread and durum wheat genotypes to combined water and nutrient limitations. In this work package, we will:

  • Analyse panels of wheat genotypes in phenotyping platforms to explore the variation of traits influencing resource availability, soil exploration and resource use under realistic water and N limitations.
  • Analyse wheat responses (yield and yield-related traits) to variations of resource availability in a network of field trials involving optimal conditions and combined water and N limitations.
  • Identify diagnostic transcriptome signatures for N deficiency, P deficiency and drought stress in potatoes to enable the identification of the limiting stress in plants experiencing combined stresses.
  • Analyse crop and microbiome responses to combined resource limitations using selected genotypes and novel hybrids, and identify novel traits and microbiome signatures enhancing tolerance to these limitations.
  • Couple plant scale FSPMs and plot scale crop models to explore the most relevant aspects of the soil-microbiome- crop-atmosphere system and investigate the value of novel traits’ combinations.


  • Prof. Xavier Draye, UCL, Work package leader
  • Jean-Pierre Cohan, ARVALIS, Work package co-leader