Digital imaging in plant breeding

Plant breeding means improving plants for use in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, as ornamentals, in bio-economy, and other for applications. Breeders enhance plant genomes on purpose, by applying a whole range of technologies, ranging from classical breeding over mutagenesis, hybrid breeding, marker assisted breeding to transgene and genome editing approaches. Similarly, tissue culture techniques, double haploids or protoplast techniques are applied. All such technologies aim at amending the genomes with favourable features that deliver more yield, better resource use efficiency, or tolerance to stress factors, thus they aim at delivering improved phenotypes.

Analysing the genome-phenome linkage therefore is a key step in breeding efforts to ensure that the newly developed genotypes deliver adequate phenotypes under the targeted environmental conditions.

Relating genotypes with phenotypes not only requires broad experience in plant science and breeding but also demands for advanced digital technologies that allow documenting and analysing the phenotypes of the plant material. In modern breeding, digital phenotyping is essential because the digital technology allows connecting genomic data with phenomic data in machine-readable formats. Phenotype data directly feed into databases together with genotype data so that datasets are accessible to state-of-the-art data processing and statistics, together with machine learning and artificial intelligence methods.

A lot of plant features that can serve as key indicators in breeding are accessible to digital phenotyping, and LemnaTec delivers a range of tools for measuring these.