Dr Trevor Garnett

China taps into Australian plant phenomics expertise

Trevor-and-Egypt-Ambass

The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility’s (APPF) Dr Trevor Garnett and Dr Xavier Sirault are delighted to have been invited as a feasibility evaluation experts to review the Nanjing Agricultural University’s (NAU) plans for a new high-tech Phenotyping Research Centre later this month.

While in Nanjing, China, they will also give a talks at a phenotyping workshop at NAU and are invited guests of the Modern Agricultural Science and Technology Conference. Dr Garnett and Dr Sirault will return again to Nanjing in March 2018 as a keynote speakers at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Plant Phenotyping Conference.

Earlier this year Prof. Yanfeng Ding, Professor of Agronomy, Vice President NAU and colleagues traveled to Australia and met with Dr Garnett and Dr Sirault to tour the APPF’s facilities, and learn more about the latest plant phenotyping technology and expertise. The APPF is visited regularly by international agricultural research groups; most recently from Egypt, Sri Lanka, China, France, Morocco, Taiwan, Iran, Chile and New Zealand.

The APPF is a distributed network of national research infrastructure platforms that offer open access to plant phenomics technologies and expertise not available at this scale or breadth in the public sector anywhere else in the world. We provide state-of-the-art plant phenotyping tools and expertise to enable academic and commercial plant scientists, from Australia and around the world, address complex problems in plant and agricultural science.

About Dr Trevor Garnett

Dr Garnett is Technology Development Director at the APPF’s Adelaide node, based at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide. There, he is implementing new phenotyping technologies for the Australian phenomics community, such as hyperspectral imaging in controlled environments and the field, field phenotyping using UAVs and ground based platforms, and root phenotyping. Dr Garnett is also the Phenomics Program Leader of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Wheat in a Hot and Dry Climate. His research interests include nitrogen use efficiency in cereals. (Dr Garnett is pictured above, talking with His Excellency Mr Mohamed Khairat, Ambassador of The Arab Republic of Egypt, in the APPF’s DroughtSpotter).

About Dr Xavier Sirault

Dr Sirault is Director of the APPF’s Canberra (CSIRO) node where he is responsible for its operational management, international engagement and transfer of its technology to industries. In parallel to this role, Dr Sirault works as a Senior Research Scientist for CSIRO Agriculture and Food. His research aims at understanding the factors that regulate and limit photosynthesis in crop plants, and in particular, how these factors influence plant growth and performance. Dr Sirault is also Vice Chair of the International Plant Phenotyping Network where he hopes to spearhead the development of solutions for maximising data inter-operability and data re-use globally. (Dr Sirault is pictured below, welcoming His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka, and his delegation).

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About Nanjing Agricultural University

NAU is one of the earliest institutions of higher agricultural education in China and a national key university under the Chinese Ministry of Education. A 2012 analysis of research citations by Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators found NAU among the top 1% of institutions in the fields of Agricultural Science, Plant & Animal Science and Environment/Ecology. Building on its century-long history, NAU is today pursuing a strategy of developing into one of the best agricultural universities in the world. The main campus of the university is situated in Weigang, in the picturesque eastern part of Nanjing near the UNESCO World Heritage Ming Imperial Tombs and the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. (NAU is pictured below).

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Drought knows no borders

The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) was delighted to welcome His Excellency Mr Mohamed Khairat, Ambassador of The Arab Republic of Egypt, to its Adelaide node recently.

Egyptians share our love of wheat, however, they are heavily reliant on wheat imports which are struggling to keep up with demand. As a remedy, 1.5 million hectares of Egyptian land has been set aside for local wheat production, but there are challenges ahead. Egyptian wheat growers suffer from the same yield limiting issues of heat and drought as we do here in southern Australia.

While touring the facility, His Excellency shared his enthusiasm for future collaboration with the APPF’s Dr Trevor Garnett.

“There is a wealth of knowledge and experience at the APPF and the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide in plant phenotyping and wheat production. His Excellency sees exciting opportunities for Egyptian scientists and PhD students to collaborate on research and share ideas on how to improve this essential crop”, said Dr Garnett.

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His Excellency Mr Mohamed Khairat, Ambassador of The Arab Republic of Egypt (pictured right) talks with Dr Trevor Garnett in the DroughtSpotter greenhouse at The Plant Accelerator®, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (Adelaide node)

 

Drip-fed success

The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) is pleased to announce the new DroughtSpotter precision irrigation platform has been fully tested and commissioned, and is now ready to support your plant phenomics research.

The DroughtSpotter is a gravimetric platform with precision irrigation allowing accurate and reproducible water application for drought stress or related experiments.

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Left:  Wheat plants on the DroughtSpotter  –  Right:  Cecilia and Viviana from Monash University harvest sorghum plants during their research

A number of pilot projects were carried out to test the platform with excellent results.

Monash University researchers, led by Associate Professor Ros Gleadow, investigated the impacts of dhurrin (a chemical that is toxic to grazing animals) on drought tolerance in sorghum plants. Plants were grown under a range of drought stresses and then harvested throughout growth for biomass characterisation, metabolomics and transcriptomic responses.

“We found the DroughtSpotter to be an excellent platform to apply accurate, reproducible amounts of water to large numbers of individual plants for growth and compositional analysis under different levels of water limitation,”said Associate Professor Gleadow.

Led by Professor Steve Tyerman, researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Adelaide and TA EEA-CONICET Mendoza, Argentina investigated the relationship between hydraulic and stomatal conductance and its regulation by root and leaf aquaporins under water stress.

“A better understanding of these mechanisms is highly relevant to irrigation scheduling and to ensure sustainable vineyard management in a context of water scarcity” said Professor Tyerman.

“The DroughtSpotter platform allowed us to achieve precise control over soil moisture and vine water stress, which was the most critical aspect to the success of this project.”

The DroughtSpotter greenhouse is available to all publicly or commercially funded researchers. For further information, please visit the APPF website or contact Dr Trevor Garnett.

To read the DroughtSpotter pilot project reports:  “Drought Response in Low-Cyanogenic Sorghum bicolor Mutants”  and  “Investigating the relationship between hydraulic and stomatal conductance and its regulation by root and leaf aquaporins under progressive water stress and recovery, and exogenous application of ABA in grapevine”