IMPAC³ - Novel genotypes for mixed cropping allow for IMProved sustainable land use ACross arable land, grassland and woodland

Subproject: Traits for nitrogen and water use in fast-growing tree species

Duration of the project: 2014 - 2017

Contact: Dejuan Euring, Email: dning(at)

Plant breeding innovations and their utilization in cropping systems is seen as a major pathway to a sustainable intensification of plant production. Increasing crop diversity in mixed cropping systems has the potential to enhance production while maintaining or reducing resource consumption. In this project, novel genotypes, provided by recent breeding activities, are being examined for their potential to increase biomass production in mixed cropping systems across three domains of farming practice: arable land, grassland, and woodland. The overall hypothesis is that novel genotypes that possess traits advantageous for multi-species systems are more productive and use resources more efficiently than genotypes not possessing such traits. A central experiment hosting the three domains using the same experimental design has been established at two sites of differing soil fertility and environmental conditions. Leguminous/non-leguminous species have been combined in each domain with one focal species per domain receiving particular attention with regard to plant traits that control mixture performance and the genetic background of the traits.

In the current subproject, we focus on genotype variation in traits for nitrogen and water use of poplar clones (Populus sp.) in mixed cropping with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). Our objectives are to understand whether black locust impacts on poplar nitrogen and water use efficiency and how these effects vary among poplar genotypes in response to mixed cropping with black locust. In this study, mixed stands of eight poplar clones and tree Robinia cultivars are compared with their pure stands at two locations of contrasting soil fertility. We determine nitrogen and water use efficiency with contrasting poplars which have the strongest and lowest responsiveness to black locust. Wood properties will be characterized. Genes that are associated with, or responsible for positive effects of mixed cropping will be identified using RNA sequencing in roots and wood.

Publications and Dissemination

Euring D, Polle A (2016) Genotype variation in traits for nitrogen and water use of poplar mixed cropping with Robinia. PLANT 2030 Status Seminar 2016, Potsdam, Germany (14-16 Mar 2016)

Euring D (2016) Genotype variation in height growth of poplar mixed cropping with Robinia. IMPAC³ Annual Meeting 2016, Göttingen, Germany (16 Feb 2016)

Funding acknowledgement

The project is funded by the BMBF - Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung under grant agreement No: FKZ 031A351C. IMPAC³ is a project of the Centre of Biodiversity and sustainable Land Use at the University of Goettingen.