Modelling the interactions between water and nutrient uptake and root growth

V.M. Dunbabin, A.J. Diggle, Zed Rengel, R. Van Hugten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


A model of three-dimensional root growth has been developed to simulate the interactions between root systems, water and nitrate in the rooting environment. This interactive behaviour was achieved by using an external-supply/internal-demand regulation system for the allocation of endogenous plant resources. Data from pot experiments on lupins heterogeneously supplied with nitrate were used to test and parameterise the model for future simulation work. The model reproduced the experimental results well (R-2=0.98), simulating both the root proliferation and enhanced nitrate uptake responses of the lupins to differential nitrate supply. These results support the use of the supply/demand regulation system for modelling nitrate uptake by lupins. Further simulation work investigated the local uptake response of lupins when nitrate was supplied to a decreasing fraction of the root system. The model predicted that the nitrate uptake activity of lupin roots will increase as the fraction of root system with access to nitrate decreases, but is limited to an increase of around twice that of a uniformly supplied control. This work is the first example of a modelled root system responding plastically to external nutrient supply. This model will have a broad range of applications in the study of the interactions between root systems and their spatially and temporally heterogeneous environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-38
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 2002


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling the interactions between water and nutrient uptake and root growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this