Drought and changing CO2 levels are just some aspects of the very complex phenomenon of climate change

Climate Change

Crop production is strongly related to climate change. One of the most important aims of crop plant research and plant breeding is to understand how plants react to climate change and how they can be bred to perform better under changing conditions. While plant stressors like drought, waterlogging, heat and salinity occur even without climate change, the influence of elevated CO2 levels is a new environmental variable with a potentially major influence on plant development. As gradually changing CO2 levels are just one of many factors influencing plant development, its realistic effects are not easy to determine. On the other side, obtaining sound estimates of plant reaction to elevated CO2 levels gets increasingly important, both for crop science and for climate modelling.

Experiments with thousands of (different) plants under selected general environmental conditions (light, soil humidity etc.) at different, but realistic CO2 levels can help enormously to understand influences on plant development.

Contribution of LemnaTec plant phenotyping systems to climate change research

  • Climate Change - LemnaTec scanalyzer plant phenotyping systems can measure even small changes in plant development with a high reproducibility, showing the dynamics of such changes.
  • To eliminate nearly all other environmental factors, the non-destructive plant phenotyping of the LemnaTec scanalyzer imaging systems allow measuring of individual plant reactions to a change of the CO2 level during the experiment.
  • The randomisation of plants in greenhouses or growth chambers and the transparent structure of the LemnaTec conveyor belt systems provide the best way to average out CO2 gradients, thus keeping growth condition as homogenous as possible.
  • Comprehensive combinations of VIS, NIR and IR imaging provide the best options to discriminate the reaction patterns of specific plants.
  • As one scanalyzer3D imaging system can serve a large set of greenhouses or growth chambers with different CO2 concentrations, direct comparison of plants grown under different CO2 conditions becomes possible. If necessary, the imaging systems can be adapted to the CO2 conditions of the actually measured greenhouse or growth room to avoid adaptation reactions. Alternatively, gas sluices can be installed to avoid significant gas exchange into the growth compartments.
  • Due to the high degree of automation, there is almost no need for CO2 emitting humans to work in the growth areas during CO2 experiments, which enables constant CO2 conditions in the plant environment and experiments with massively increased CO2 conditions.
  • Automation even facilitates experiments with isotope enriched CO2 as human (emission) interference is minimised.