Combining wheat genotypes with cultivation methods to facilitate mycorrhizosphere organisms improving soil quality and crop resilience

Professor Jonathan Leake
University of Sheffield

Co-PIs & Co-Is

Professor Julie Scholes, University of Sheffield
Professor Duncan Cameron, University of Sheffield
Professor Jurriaan Ton, University of Sheffield
Professor Steve Banwart, University of Sheffield
Professor Joseph Holden, University of Leeds
Professor Leslie Firbank, University of Leeds
Dr. Thorunn Helgason, University of York
Dr. Andreas Heinemeyer, University of York

Aims & Objectives

Intensive arable farming methods and the use of less arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) competent wheat strains have contributed to loss of soil structure and organic matter to the point that this is now a major constraint on crop productivity. This project will investigate ways to reverse this decline by:

  • Using wheat lines derived from a suitable mapping population selected for AM competence to establish sequential field trials.
  • Investigating the effects of tillage and non-tillage and presence or absence of commercially available mycorrhizal inoculum on the field trials.
  • Planting and establishing grass leys with the wheat lines to assess the ability of this traditional method to restore soil quality.
  • Quantifying mycorrhizosphere carbon fluxes using 14C and conducting metagenomics analyses of mycorrhizosphere communities


The abstract for the project can be read in full here

Presentations given by the project members can be seen here.

Professor Jonathan Leake

University of Sheffield

Professor Leake is a reader in plant-soil interactions at the University of Sheffield.  His main research interests are plant-to-soil carbon fluxes, mycorrhizal fungi, specialised root functioning and pollution impacts on plants, soil biology and chemistry, and health. For more information about Kate please click here.


Steffi Tille


Steffi Tille is a plant and soil biochemist who is specialized in plant metabolomics and nutrient uptake. Her current research focuses on the impact of mycorrhiza fungi on arable soil chemistry, structure and quality as well as their effect on crop stress responses and health. She has experience in growing arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi root cultures and is familiar with a range of analytical techniques including mass spectrometry, stable and radioisotope labelling and the assessment of mycorrhizal colonization in plant roots and soil.