Thomas Hartley

Increasing the potassium use efficiency in crops

Project Description and Biopic:

I graduated from the University of York in 2013 with a First class degree in Biology and had previously spent a year at Rothamsted Research investigating the impacts of long-term fertiliser application. My PhD research is supervised by Drs. Frans Maathuis and Jon Pitchford and involves the use of genetics and mathematics to uncover ways in which the potassium use efficiency of crops could be improved. In brief, potassium fertilisers are a substantial cost to farmers and so developing crops that require lower inputs would provide financial benefits as well as decreasing the environmental impact of agriculture. I intend to screen a collection of rice lines from around the world for how efficiently they use available potassium and then find the genetic basis of differences between lines. A mathematical model of the uptake, distribution and use of potassium will also be created to further explore potassium use efficiency.


Hartley, T.N. et al., 2013. Historical arsenic contamination of soil due to long-term phosphate fertiliser applications. Environmental Pollution, 180, pp.259–264.