Belowground Crop Ecology

Our research group focuses on belowground interactions between roots and their surrounding environment, contributing to the development of resilient cropping systems with efficient resource use.

Root system development and function play an important role in future more sustainable cropping systems. We investigate the development, uptake, and plasticity of roots and the responses to the soil conditions and abiotic stresses. We have a strong focus on yield stability of legumes for food and feed with emphasis on root development, drought tolerance as well as root interactions in intercropping systems. Furthermore, we study roots, acquisition of water, phosphorus, and nitrogen and root interactions at different scales from field to lab.




Root development and drought tolerance: we investigate the effect of rooting depth and distribution on tolerance towards environmental stressors such as drought.

Protein crops: we aim to develop more sustainable cropping systems including legumes with improved yield stability as a protein source for food and feed. We provide novel knowledge on the root systems of forage and grain legumes and the significance for more climate-smart systems.

Plant based food: We work with old cultivars of pea to find well-tasting, high quality protein sources that are agronomical realistic to grow for plant based foods

Intercropping: we aim to unravel root competition, facilitation and complementarity when growing two or more species together.

Root system development in 3D:  we are applying CT scanning to root systems in soil uncovering the three dimensional root development over time.







  • IMFABA - Examining if drought tolerance in different lines of faba bean is dependent on rooting depth and distribution in order to increase yield stability.

  • PEAS & LOVE - Potential of old pea cultivars for human consumption. Genetic characterization, quality and agronomy.

  • Root development in forage legumes Cultivar differences in rooting depth and distribution of red clover, white clover and lucerne and effect of intercropping on root development.

  • RootOutP Investigating interactions between plant roots and phosphorus in soil using CT scanning

  • Novo Nordisk Foundation Start Package grant Tenure-Track Assistant Professor

  • Carbon Sequestrate in mixtures

  • ClimateClover













  1. Han E, Czaban W, Dresbøll DB, Thorup-Kristensen K (2022). Exploitation of neighbouring subsoil for nutrient acquisition under annual-perennial strip intercropping systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 338. Link
  2. Rasmussen CR, Thorup-Kristensen K, Dresbøll DB. (2020). Uptake of subsoil water below 2 m fails to alleviate drought response in deep-rooted Chicory (Cichorium intybus L). Plant and Soil 446: 275-290. Link










Research group members

Name Title Job responsibilities Phone E-mail
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Chuxi Zhu PhD Fellow +4535328944 E-mail
Dorte Bodin Dresbøll Associate Professor +4535333452 E-mail
Ferdinando Binacchi Postdoc +4535329352 E-mail
Frederik van der Bom Assistant Professor - Tenure Track +4535337128 E-mail
Jens Axel Knuhtsen PhD Fellow +4535328733 E-mail
Lorène Siegwart Postdoc +4535321512 E-mail
Nawa Raj Dhamala Postdoc +4535323643 E-mail
Tomke Susanne Wacker Postdoc   E-mail

Research group leader

Dorte Bodin Dresbøll