Plant-Soil Interactions

Plant-Soil Interactions

Soil is one of the Earth’s most precious resources and is essential for global food security. However, as our climate changes the pressure on both soil and water resources will intensify and the need for sustainable management will increase. These challenges are currently being addressed by a multi-faceted research programme on ‘Soil and Plant Interactions’.  Our research spans across several scales, from the root hair to the whole catchment, but general research themes include: i) sustainable soil management; ii) rhizosphere biophysics; iii) trace element biofortification; iv) soil carbon and nutrient dynamics; v) health risks from organic and inorganic contaminants in soil.

Maize root


A 3-D Visualisation of Maize grown in a Sandy Loam soil using X-ray Computed Tomography

Key aims and expertise

Key aims relate to closing research gaps in sustainable agri-environmental management supporting global food security priorities. Example projects include attempts to identify novel root architectural traits that underpin yield, nitrate and water uptake efficiency by characterising a wide range of wheat elite lines, mapping populations and unique alien introgressions using our micro X-ray CT phenotyping platform. Our interdisciplinary team comprises soil biologists, chemists and physicists who readily link with environmental modellers, climate change scientists and plant biologists.

Current projects

Systematic Functional Analysis of Nitrogen/Phosphate Use Efficiency in Crops (JAAS Hodgman, Lu)

Truly Predicting Water Uptake Efficiency in Wheat (BBSRC Mooney, Crout, Bennett, Foulkes

FUTUREROOTS – Redesigning root architecture for improved performance (ERC Bennett, Mooney, Foulkes, Broadley, Wells)

Significant results

The group has lead the development on in situ non-invasive imaging of root architecture in 4-D including the development of automated root segmentation software (RooTrak, Mairhofer et al. 2012). This is currently being used to gain new insights into root responses to abiotic and biotic stresses.






Plant-Soil Interactions

The University of Nottingham
Gateway Building, Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 6257