Charlotte Rambla

Position: PhD Student
Place of birth: Paris, France
Language: Italian, French, English
Scholarships: Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)
Advisors: A/Prof Lee Hickey, Dr. Samir Alahmad, Prof. Michelle Watt, Dr. Kai Voss-Fels, Prof. Cristobal Uauy



Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the leading food crops around the world, covering around 219 million ha (Faostat, 2017, Wheat is a staple food for humans, providing 18% of daily human intake of calories and 20% of protein; and has been improved over the last 8-10,000 years (Venske et al., 2019; Rufo et al., 2020). Root system architecture (RSA, the spatial configuration of a root system in soil) plays an important role in the improvement and impact of grain yield in wheat, but also in other crops (Lynch, 2007; Smith and Smet, 2012).

I am studying root systems of bread wheat with the aim to develop elite wheat varieties with enhanced root systems. This project is a core activity for the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) project focussed on delivering a breeder’s ‘toolbox’ to manipulate wheat roots and enhance yield. Studying root architecture has always been challenging, however advances in phenotyping and genotyping technologies offer new opportunities to gain insight and modify root systems faster than ever before.

Develop a new approach to enable single plant selection for root traits to create different configurations of root systems
Understanding the role of root proxy traits in root system development
Investigating the relationships between modified root system and shoot in field context

Research outlook
Develop a toolkit to empower researchers and plant breeders to manipulate below-ground components of future wheat varieties, to improve productivity in the face of increasing environmental fluctuations. This would enable a better understanding of the value of root traits for yield improvement in different environments and soil types. Furthermore, this research will generate new germplasm, using markers, speed breeding and field root phenotyping in collaboration with CSIRO. The main thrust of the project is to generate experimental wheats with a full spectrum of root configurations. The research will benefit wheat improvement programmes in developed and developing countries because there is global interest in understanding how to optimise root systems for a range of environments. Improved root systems should increase the capture of nutrients and water, and decrease losses of nutrients to groundwater through leaching. These factors will contribute to the sustainability of growing wheat in both high input and low input farming systems.


Makhoul, M., Rambla, C., Voss-Fels, K.P. et al. Overcoming polyploidy pitfalls: a user guide for effective SNP conversion into KASP markers in wheat. Theor Appl Genet (2020).

Alahmad S., Rambla C., Voss-Fels K. P., Hickey L. T. (2021) Accelerating Breeding Cycles. In: Wheat Improvement, Springer Book Chapter.