‘It takes a village to raise a child’ states the age-old saying, but now it will take a village to feed the child as well – if we’re smart.
“Agriculture’s critical challenges of providing food security and better nutrition in the face of climate change can only be met through global communities that share knowledge and outputs; looking inward will not lead to results,” said Ulrich Schurr, Director of the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences of the Forschungszentrum Jülich and Chair of the International Plant Phenotyping Network (IPPN), speaking at the 4th International Plant Phenotyping Symposium in Mexico recently.
Dr Jose Jimenez-Berni (keynote speaker), Dr Xavier Sirault (Co-Chair IPPN), Dr Trevor Garnett and Dr Bettina Berger from the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility at the symposium
200 world-class scientists from over 20 countries gathered from 13 to 15 December 2016 to share knowledge and technology at the symposium, co-hosted by IPPN and the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT.
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.
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.
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 theAPPF websiteor contact Dr Trevor Garnett.
This year the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) partnered with the Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility (URAF) at the University of Adelaide to provide improved phenotyping capabilities to support Australian plant and agricultural scientists.
The researchers use sensors on board remotely piloted aircraft to monitor plant growth and vigour for agricultural and ecological research. Platforms range from multi-copters to fixed wing aircraft, carrying cameras and multispectral and thermal sensors. Imagery captured produce GIS (geographic information system) layers used to integrate with field data to further develop relationships between plant growth, environmental conditions and plant treatment. The potential to measure parameters on field trials such as establishment, height, biomass, stress and nutritional status can be explored using this technology.
A recent episode on the youth science television show ‘Scope’ features the APPF field phenotyping capacity with Dr Ramesh Raja Segaran from the research team demonstrating the use of drones to investigate wheat tolerant of sodic soils. You can watch the episode here (the story commences at 16 min 19 sec)… https://tenplay.com.au/channel-eleven/scope/season-3/episode-131
Dr Ramesh Raja Segaran demonstrating field phenotyping
The International Wheat Yield Partnership aims to make major improvements to wheat yields globally by exploring increases in biomass and photosynthesis. Two projects underpinning this research are currently underway at ANU in collaboration with research groups at collaborators at CIMMYT in Mexico and in the UK:
Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis are mapping phenomics data on wheat to genomic sequence data to find the genes underpinning photosynthetic variation, whilst
Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology are carrying out similar experiments to explore how efficiently plants use the carbon fixed in photosynthesis to produce yield.
An exciting new project to link the two research projects above is currently facilitated at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility. The project examines the links between photosynthesis, growth rate and respiration rate in a set of wheat lines chosen for variation in their photosynthetic properties.
These lines are first being grown in field plots of the Field Cropatron* to be scanned for hyperspectral reflectance, digital growth analysis with Phenomobile Lite and respiratory efficiency, measured in a unique high throughput respirometer.
The same lines will be grown in controlled environment chambers and scanned in the same way but using PlantScan. These data will inform the researchers how early in development they can measure these traits and whether controlled environment ranking of the 25 lines of wheat can be robustly extrapolated to the field.