Plants respond to their environment. Growth, the rate of increase in mass and volume, is affected by solar radiation, temperature, nutrients, and water. Processes are very complex and therefore, many simulation models which describe crop growth and development in relation to external factors, exist.
The study of Jochem Evers, my supervisor, is to examine tillering behaviour of the spring wheat Triticum aestivum during the vegetative stages of development, using a virtual plant modeling approach. More precisely, he wants to obtain a thorough dataset for use with the virtual plant model ADELwheat. This model is currently descriptive and based on empirical relations; his goal is to introduce carbon assimilation and partitioning into the model, using source and sink strengths and source-sink relationships.
Thanks to this thorough dataset concerning some morphological traits and biomass measures, I could study spring wheat behaviour and the effects of different factors on plant strategy of adaptation. Indeed, adaptation is linked to plasticity of morphological traits, therefore, in this experiment, we have confronted spring wheat with shade, a low nitrogen content and different plant densities. Then during the entire plant development, we have realized several measures of biomass and length of different organs.
For me, the global objective of this experiment is to understand dynamic and adaptation strategy of spring wheat in response to environmental conditions and crop management (decrease in light intensity, nutrient availability and modification in plant population density). More precisely, I try to clearly differentiate strategy of adaptation and physiological consequences using the notion of intraspecific competition to natural resources like solar radiation and nitrogen availability.