Charlotte Rambla

Position: PhD Student

Place of birth: Paris, France

Language: Italian, French, English

Scholarships: Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Advisors: Dr. Lee Hickey, Dr. Kai Voss-Fels





In 2050 there will be 2 billion more people in the world and wheat demand is expected to increase by 60%. Wheat is one of the main food crops in the world and provides 20% of the daily protein and calories in the human diet. Wheat for almost 8,000 years has been the basic staple food of the major civilizations. Today, wheat is grown in nearly every region of the world and represents a main source of food and income for millions of smallholder farmers.

I am studying the wheat root system with the aim to develop elite wheat varieties with enhanced root systems. This project is a core activity for the new 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 strenuous, but advances in phenotyping and genotyping technologies offer new opportunities to gain insight and modify root systems faster than ever before. I believe that harnessing roots could contribute towards a second Green Revolution in low-input systems, with root systems designed to capture more water and nutrients with minimal metabolic costs. Fine tuning root systems for high input systems is also important to ensure the canopy has adequate supply of resources.



  • Transfer characterised root trait alleles via backcrossing into elite high-yielding CIMMYT and Australian lines
  • Identify a suite of genetic markers that can be used in various combinations to create an arsenal of root ideotypes to support high yields for a diversity of farmed environments
  • Test hypotheses on how different root phenotypes can contribute to yield potential
  • Provide know-how on advanced root phenotyping for controlled environments and field trials


Research outlook:

A root ideotype toolbox to support improved wheat yields will generate new germplasm, markers, researchers and pre-breeders skilled in new selection methods including Speed Breeding and field root phenotyping and trait validation, as well as a phenotypic platform at the IWYP Hub in Obregon. The main thrust of the project is to generate and test root ideotypes; the classic, forward approach to physiological breeding. 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.