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Romain Barillot

Romain Barillot

session, year:
2017 2nd


Receiving laboratory:
ILVO Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, Melle

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Mobility project

Mechanistic modelling of leaf morphogenesis and growth under drought conditions in grasses

Sown-grasslands play a key role in the ecological intensification of agriculture but climate change has already measurable impacts on their production. The change in atmospheric CO2, temperature and water availability [will] affect plant growth and development through complex feedback controls. Plant morphogenesis is a key process regulated by the environmental factors, which also determines the plant-environment interface and therefore the ability of plants for resource capture. We previously developed a comprehensive Functional Structural Plant Model (CN-Wheat) accounting for the interactions between environmental factors (light, temperature, CO2, soil nitrogen) and the metabolism of carbon and nitrogen within a static description of grass architecture. Besides, the modelling of leaf growth and its regulation by carbon and nitrogen availability is under progress, assuming water non-limiting. However, water is the driving force of leaf growth and drought periods have dramatic effects on plant morphology and production. Plant water balance is determined by the soil capacity, evaporative demand of the atmosphere and stomatal conductance, which is itself regulated by the CO2. Therefore, assessing the integrated response of plants to climate change requires to develop comprehensive and architectural models accounting for both the trophic and water status. The present project will bring a decisive contribution to this construction by implementing a model of leaf growth in grasses under various climate conditions including drought. Using a turgor pressure model developed by the hosting institute, I will implement the response of leaf growth to the water status into the existing modelling frame. The project will lead to an original model integrating the interactions between the (i) environmental factors, (ii) carbon, nitrogen and water status and (iii) plant functioning. This model will be a determinant tool to improve our understanding of plant behaviour in future climate conditions and to investigate adaptation strategies for grasslands.

Biography & research interests

I am a plant ecophysiologist interested in the study of plant functioning in relation with its abiotic environment. I studied biology at the University of Poitiers (France), where I specialized in plant physiology. My master degree was focused on the combined effects of light signalling on the stomatal control of transpiration and leaf extension.

For my PhD thesis at the University of Angers (France; 2009-2012), I modelled the interactions between plant architecture and light partitioning in intercropping systems. I conducted my Postdoctoral research at INRA ECOSYS (France) between 2013 and 2016. One of my leading achievements has been the implementation of an innovative Functional Structural Plant Model (FSPM) based on a mechanistic representation of the metabolism of carbon and nitrogen in grasses. I currently hold a permanent position of scientist at INRA P3F where I am leading a research program on the adaptation of grasslands to climate change. My main objectives are to anticipate the effects of climate changes on grasslands and to propose adaptive strategies allowing farmers to maintain their production in future climate conditions and to manage their grassland efficiently.

Selected publications

Barillot R, Chambon C, Andrieu B., 2016. CN-Wheat, a functional-structural model of carbon and nitrogen metabolism in wheat culms after anthesis. I. Model description. Annals of Botany 118: 997-1013.

Barillot R, Chambon C, Andrieu B. 2016. CN-Wheat, a functional-structural model of carbon and nitrogen metabolism in wheat culms after anthesis. II. Model evaluation. Annals of Botany 118: 1015-1031.

Barillot R, Escobar-Gutierrez AJ, Fournier C, Huynh P, Combes D., 2014. Assessing the effects of architectural variations on light partitioning within virtual wheat-pea mixtures. Annals of Botany 114: 725-737.

Barillot R, Louarn G, Escobar-Gutierrez AJ, Huynh P, Combes D., 2011. How good is the turbid medium-based approach for accounting for light partitioning in contrasted grass-legume intercropping systems? Annals of Botany 108: 1013-1024.

Barillot R., Frak, E., Combes, D., Durand, J. L., Escobar Gutierrez, A., 2010. What determines the complex kinetics of stomatal conductance under blueless PAR in Festuca arundinacea? Subsequent effects on leaf transpiration. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61 (10): 2795-2806.


Functional Structural Plant Model, grasslands, leaf growth, morphogenesis, turgor pressure, Climate change, drought, water