The role of genotypic diversity in stabilizing plant productivity in variable environments

Creissen, Henry (2013) The role of genotypic diversity in stabilizing plant productivity in variable environments. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Crop varietal mixtures have the potential to increase yield stability compared to
monocultures in highly variable and unpredictable environments, yet knowledge of the
specific mechanisms underlying enhanced yield stability has been limited. Field studies
are constrained by environmental conditions that cannot be fully controlled and thus
reproduced. This thesis tested the suitability of Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system
to allow for reproducible experiments on ecological processes operating within crop
genetic mixtures. Knowledge of the ecological processes occurring within varietal
mixtures may improve the exploitation of mixtures in both conventional and subsistence
Genotypic diversity among accessions of A. thaliana buffered against abiotic stress,
specifically nutrient and heat stress, and increased yield stability through compensation.
The role of compensatory interactions in genotypic mixtures was supported by
experiments investigating the ability of A. thaliana genotypic diversity to buffer against
biotic stress, specifically the oomycete pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and
viral pathogen Turnip yellows virus.
Findings from research on plant phenotypic traits involved in competition and
compensation in A. thaliana, were translated into the crop plant winter barley in field
experiments. Mixtures achieved high and stable yields despite being subjected to
multiple abiotic and biotic stresses, some of which were not anticipated. Unexpectedly,
facilitation was identified as an important ecological process occurring within mixtures.
This indicates that crop varietal mixtures have the capacity to stabilise productivity even
when environmental conditions and stresses are not predicted in advance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Users 2259 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 13:36
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014 13:36


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