respiration rate

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.

droughtspotter-and-cecilia-and-viviana

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”

Finding the Link

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.

For more information contact Bob Furbank or Owen Atkin.

*Check it out: Time-lapse video of the irrigation set-up in the Field Cropatron.

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