The importance of integrating high-throughput phenotyping with anatomical traits of leaves to help understanding plants acclimation to a changing environment

Dr. Chiara Amitrano (University of Naples Federico II)

This PhenomicsWebinar took place on Friday, March 4, 14:00CET.

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Nowadays, about 50% of the global crop yield loss are due to climatic changes; increasing VPD (temperature and relative humidity) and drought are among the principal environmental stressors. In this project two lettuce cultivars, already characterized under different VPDs in terms of growth, phytochemical composition, and photosynthesis, during previous experiments, were evaluated under two different VPDs (low and high) and watering regimes (well-water and drought stress) and then subjected to sudden changes in the VPD. The aim of this high-throughput phenotyping experiment was to study how stomatal regulation (gs) and water use efficiency affects carbon gain and biomass allocation in lettuces adapted to different environmental conditions (VPDs) which developed a different leaf anatomical structure, and then were subjected to sudden changes in VPD. Infrared camera was used to estimate plant-water relationships, RGB imaging was applied to track changes in morphophysiological parameters and fluorescence camera to assess any changes in the photosystem. At the end of the experimental trials, leaf samples were collected in FAA fixative solution and brought to the PWA (Plant and Wood Anatomy) lab of the University of Naples “Federico II” to analyze their morpho-anatomical development in terms of stomata, veins, and leaf lamina traits through light microscopy. Data from phenotyping and microscopy are being integrated to understand how stomatal regulation and carbon allocation can influence lettuce productivity in warmer and drier climates and to understand their dynamic acclimation to sudden changes in the surrounding environment. These results will also be useful to implement growth in controlled environment in support of Space exploration with wide effects also on Earth for sustainable precision farming.


Speaker Information

Dr. Chiara Amitrano (University of Naples Federico II)

Chiara was born in Naples (Italy) in 1992. She graduated in Biology at the University of Naples “Federico II” in 2016 working on a thesis in Space-Ecology, focusing on eco-physiology. Soon after, she got a scholarship for research activities about evaluating the anthropic impact on plants grown in the area of the Vesuvius National park. This experience gave her a range of practical lab and field skills, making her decide to apply for a phD position. In July 2021 she obtained her phD in Sustainable Agricultural and Forestry System and Food security at the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Naples “Federico II”, working with Prof. Veronica De Miccoand and Prof. Stefania De Pascale. For her phD project “Characterization of plant water flows in controlled environment-Plant smart sensors”, she studied plant hydraulics in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) from a morpho- physiological point of view. During the phD she has been abroad for 9 months, working at the University of Arizona CEAC, under the supervision of Dr. Murat Kacira. There, she worked on improving crop resource use efficiency in CEA systems, by applying proximal sensing, monitoring and climate control technologies. Furthermore, she submitted a proposal in the EPPN2020 framework and won a grant to perform high-throughput phenotyping experiments at the IPK-Gatersleben (Germany) under the supervision of Dr. Astrid Junker and Dr. Thomas Altmann. During her phD she has been involved in many research projects, covering following research areas:

• Plant morpho-functional and photosynthetic adaptations to natural and polluted environments.

• Controlled environment crop production and modelling.

• Plants in Space Ecosystems and extreme environments, with emphasis on the effects of ionizing radiation (radio-sensitivity and radio-resistance strategies).

• Resource use efficiency in plants and Vineyards through a multidisciplinary approach tracing functional traits in the continuum soil-plant-atmosphere.