The effect of soil physical conditions and abiotic stresses on growth and yield of selected crops


The effect of soil physical conditions and abiotic stresses on growth and yield of selected crops

Leader: Assoc. Prof. DSc Artur Nosalewicz

Team: Assoc. Prof. Dsc Jerzy Rejman; MSc Anna Rafalska-Przysucha; MSc Joanna Siecińska; mgr Magdalena Główka


In the field conditions crops are often exposed to the simultaneous action of many environmental factors. Soil drought, one of the major abiotic stress leads to inhibition of plant growth resulting in reduction of yield. More frequent occurrence of extreme weather events are predicted by models of climate change.


The aim of the study is to determine the impact of the selected environmental factors on growth, functioning and yield of crops grown in drought conditions. The research will include analysis of the response of wheat to: the simultaneous drought and aluminium toxicity in acidic soils. Simultaneous effect of drought and heat will be also analysed.
Moreover, the impact of water deficit in variously eroded soil derived from loess and related changes in soil properties: water retention, mechanical resistance and electromagnetic conductivity on the growth and yield of corn will be evaluated in the laboratory and in the field experiments.


One of the most important factors limiting the plant crops in soils with a pH below 5.5 is the toxic effects of aluminium ions. There are wheat varieties characterised by increased resistance to the toxic effects of aluminium, the mechanisms of resistance of these varieties include intensive secreted organic acids binding soil Al. Breeding these varieties may in some circumstances be economically viable alternative to soil liming. Complex interactions between: (i) the concentration and availability aluminium to plants in a soil solution at low soil water potential and reduced water uptake by plants during drought; (ii) increasing resistance of soil to penetration with soil drying and reduced root elongation as a result of aluminium toxicity are interesting and not fully recognized.


Under field conditions of drought stress and high temperatures often occur simultaneously. Plant response to these stresses is not fully understood, and information about the impact of these stresses on plant growth is needed to increase accuracy of the impact of climate change on food production in the future.


The research will be conducted under controlled laboratory conditions. Selected varieties will be grown in  soil columns with a precisely controlled soil water potential. Analyses will include determination of the effect of stresses intensity on the biomass of aerial parts and roots, the distribution of root length with depth, the intensity of photosynthesis and transpiration, chlorophyll content, the functioning of photosystem II (Fv / Fm, test OIJP), the efficiency of water uptake and biomass and grain yield.


The result of this research will allow for understanding of the complex response of tested plants to many stresses which will be helpful in developing ways of limiting the impact of these factors on the yield of crops.