University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors


  • M. Cerasuolo
  • G. M. Richter
  • B. Richard
  • J. Cunniff
  • S. Girbau
  • I. Shield
  • S. Purdy
  • A. Karp
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-977
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015


Identifying key performance traits is essential for elucidating crop growth processes and breeding. In Salix spp., genotypic diversity is being exploited to tailor new varieties to overcome environmental yield constraints. Process-based models can assist these efforts by identifying key parameters of yield formation for different genotype×environment (G×E) combinations. Here, four commercial willow varieties grown in contrasting environments (west and south-east UK) were intensively sampled for growth traits over two 2-year rotations. A sink-source interaction model was developed to parameterize the balance of source (carbon capture/mobilization) and sink formation (morphogenesis, carbon allocation) during growth. Global sensitivity analysis consistently identified day length for the onset of stem elongation as most important factor for yield formation, followed by various 'sink>source' controlling parameters. In coastal climates, the chilling control of budburst ranked higher compared with the more eastern climate. Sensitivity to drought, including canopy size and rooting depth, was potentially growth limiting in the south-east and west of the UK. Potential yields increased from the first to the second rotation, but less so for broad- than for narrow-leaved varieties (20 and 47%, respectively), which had established less well initially (-19%). The establishment was confounded by drought during the first rotation, affecting broad- more than narrow-leaved canopy phenotypes (-29%). The analysis emphasized quantum efficiency at low light intensity as key to assimilation; however, on average, sink parameters were more important than source parameters. The G×E pairings described with this new process model will help to identify parameters of sink-source control for future willow breeding.

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