Digital phenotyping of individual plants and plant communities in the field
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Plant phenotyping in ecological studies is dominated by “low-throughput” methods such as field measurements of specific traits. However, mostly in agricultural research and applications, “high -throughput phenotyping” became standard. Adopting such methods for ecological studies may provide novel insights and a more complete view on the phenotypic properties of plant communities. Based on a MicroScan equipped with a PlantEye F500 (Phenospex, Heerlen, The Netherlands), we constructed a mobile plant scanner for application in the field independent on electricity supply or any other infrastructure. Using this device, we scanned whole plant communities. Structural and spectral information resulting from these scans was predictive for land use management. In another study, we scanned individual strawberry plants (Fragaria x ananassa) exposed to different environmental conditions. Again, structural and spectral information reflected the different water and wind treatments. In conclusion, the mobile version of the PlantEye F500 is suitable for lab, greenhouse, and field applications and provides novel and valuable data for ecological studies.
Dr. Robert R. Junker is Professor at the University of Marburg, Germany and University of Salzburg, Austria. His research focuses on plant-ecology, plant-animal-bacteria interactions, community ecology, and chemical communication. His group combines fieldwork and experimental studies, chemical and molecular analyses, and is developing statistical approaches. Additional to basic research, his work is contributing towards efficient applications in agriculture and in the reduction of climate-driven natural hazards.
Prof. Dr. Junker recently started applying digital phenotyping in trait-based ecology and is currently developing statistical tools to extract ecologically relevant data from 3D point clouds and multispectral information. He is leading or contributing to several projects funded by national and European agencies. He published 68 papers in peer-reviewed journals.