Ellie Barbrook

I grew up in a small rural town in Essex where my passion for plants began. I followed this interest by choosing to study Plant Science (BSc Hons) at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). Graduating in 2020 with a First-class degree, focusing my final year project on the effects of alternative splicing on drought tolerance transcription factors in Arabidopsis thaliana. My aim was to find a splice variant that enhanced the transcription factor’s natural ability to help the plant be drought resistant. My time at CCCU helped me to develop my desire to work on developing methods to make crop production more sustainable.

My current research at the University of Reading focusses on optimizing soil nitrogen for Spinach baby leaf salad crops (in partnership with The Watercress Company, in Dorset). Nitrogen pollution resulting from suboptimal use efficiency of applied fertilizer nitrogen by crop plants is responsible for eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems (from leaching of nitrate) and emissions of nitrogenous gases, including the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. There is potential for optimisation of nitrification inhibitors in babyleaf salad production, which could minimise leaching of nitrates and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils. I intend to test the effect of timing and composition of the nitrogen-based fertiliser in combination with nitrification inhibitors with the goal of increasing nitrogen use efficiency.

Based at: University of Reading

Industry Partner: The Watercress Company

University of Reading