Affordable plant phenotyping methods and platforms


Fabio Fiorani, IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Mark Müller Linow, IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Valerio Hoyos-Villegas, AGResearch New Zealand

Luis Aguirrezabal, University Mar del Plata, Argentina (associated member)



During the last fifteen years, the phenotyping bottleneck has been tackled by a manifold of imaging-based phenotyping approaches for estimation of plant growth and development, from individual organs to shoot and root systems, whole plants and stand/ field scale. The deployment of automated imaging systems including carrier devices for plant movement and automated systems in the field in public research and industry R&D increased experimental capacities towards large scale investigation.

 These developments were accompanied by the consolidation of concepts such as 'research phenotyping platforms' and 'experimental pipelines' including large scale hardware and software solutions. These perspectives have dominated the development in the past years. However, the perceived issue emerging from surveys and exchanges with the growing phenotyping community is that both the entry level costs and the longer term 'footprint' of prototypical platforms is high. This prevents many research organizations from implementing urgently needed approaches due to lack of investment budget, technical personnel, or to avoid the significant follow-up cost of large infrastructures.

 This workgroup will focus on affordable and lean phenotyping to enhance dissemination of modern phenotypic concepts and methods. The demand of a wider plant science and breeding community to have direct access and use modern phenotypic devices and concepts shall be addressed by the combination of:

 -        identifying the demand of the community outside of the large phenotyping centers

-        mapping and fostering the availability of low-cost sensors and increasing computing power for mobile as well as stationary setups for plant phenotyping

-        using the knowledge of 'research phenotyping platforms' to simplify high-end phenotyping methods and to explore trade-offs

 The availability of both, high-end and less demanding solutions, is expected to open new opportunities for the portfolio of plant phenotyping methods to meet the diverse needs to the community.

 It is envisaged that a working group of IPPN specifically focusing on these aspects would have the following benefits:

 -        stimulate an open debate on diversification of phenotyping approaches addressing different needs, from platforms solutions to portable systems;

-        contribute to an improved definition of all the aspects that determine short- and long-term affordability of phenotyping systems;

-        develop new opportunities towards lean phenotyping devices;

-        collect and share available knowledge by several means including technical papers, white papers, opinion papers, collation of case studies.