Droughtspotter

Bumper funding to enhance national infrastructure and grains research

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Dean of the Waite Mike Keller, GRDC Managing Director Steve Jefferies, and GRDC Chairman John Woods in a greenhouse with DroughtSpotter system at the APPF’s Adelaide node.

 

National infrastructure at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility’s (APPF) node at the University of Adelaide Waite Precinct will be enhanced as part of a $1.1 million grant announced by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) today.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the funding was another important measure supporting the productivity and profitability of Australia’s grain industries through the development of more drought-resistant crops.

Almost $1 million will be invested at the APPF to build a specialised heat and drought phenotyping facility consisting of two new controlled environment rooms (CERs) fitted with LED lighting and gravimetric watering (DroughtSpotter system), and add further LED lighting in the facility’s greenhouses. The specially fitted CERs are the first of their kind in Australia, and will boost research into improving stress tolerant crops.

GRDC Chairman John Woods said the GRDC Grains R&D Infrastructure Grant was part of $15 million the GRDC Board had agreed to invest in key infrastructure, in a strategy to build national research capacity and to create enduring profitability for grain growers.

A co-contribution from the University of Adelaide supported the GRDC grant which will also add a polytunnel and birdproof enclosure to the Waite Precinct, expanding grains research capabilities.

These investments are expected to improve trait selection and increase trait delivery to breeders, facilitate simultaneous drought and heat experiments, expand bulking and selection capacity, reduce research costs and improve energy use efficiency.

For more information, visit grdc.com.au and the APPF.


What are CERs? CERs enable plants to be grown within precise temperature, light, humidity and other environmental parameters.

What is the DroughtSpotter system? DroughtSpotter is a fully automated gravimetric platform that was made to assess the transpiration dynamics of plants with a precision of up to 1 g. The integrated irrigation units allow precise and reproducible water application for drought stress or related experiments requiring accurate control of water volume to 1 ml.

Getting to the root of the problem wins

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Congratulations to Olivia Cousins, one of the Adelaide-Nottingham PhD students, who won the student poster prize at a joint conference between Soil Science Australia and New Zealand Soil Science Society, held in Queenstown, NZ recently.

Olivia’s poster, which included co-authors from The University of Adelaide, The University of Nottingham and The Plant Accelerator® at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, was one of approximately 100 posters presented at the conference. The award also includes a cash prize for Olivia.

We announced Olivia’s study here in our blog in May. The aim of her study was to quantify the impact of different soil moisture regimes and increasing levels of soil nitrogen supply on shoot and root response in wheat plants. Olivia’s experiment utilised the DroughtSpotter, a precision irrigation platform allowing accurate and reproducible water application for drought stress or related experiments. She also used the facility’s PlantEye laser scanner to non-destructively measure plant growth.

Olivia plans an exciting move to Nottingham in 2018 to continue her research including root traits and responses across different wheat species.

To view Olivia’s poster… soilecology.org/conference-posters.

The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is available to all researchers and/or industry. For bookings please contact Dr Trevor Garnett.

 

 

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”