"In natural and managed ecosystems such as agricultural fields, plants seldom grow alone, rather, they interact with individuals that belong to the same or different plant species. In an agricultural field, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) plants interact with weedy species such as Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass), and others. Wheat-weed interactions are detrimental to the crop and can lead to substantial yield loss. Gaining a better understanding of these interactions in particular belowground interactions is critical to develop wheat that can be grown under sustainable conditions. The main objectives for this proposal are (1) to establish whether roots from wheat can display different growth patterns in the presence of roots from weed species independently from resources availability, (2) to test whether root exudates contain a signal involved in root-root interactions and to possibly identify the specific compounds detected by the crop, and (3) to identify mechanisms of root interspecific interactions by studying root gene expression profiles and identifying potential regulatory genes and response pathways. A successful outcome of the described research would provide significant additional momentum to developing the root-root interaction theme into broader investigation including other rhizosphere interactions. Building a more complete model for below-ground interactions will be of interest for both ecological and agricultural research."
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