Drought tolerance is one of the key properties of crops in current and future agriculture. For a better understanding of drought tolerance mechanisms, researchers at DuPont Pioneer investigated the ABA signaling pathway, where the Xerico genes contribute to drought tolerance. A LemnaTec Lab Scanalyzer HTS was used to monitor effects of stress under water withdrawal conditions. The study revealed that overexpressing Xerico, the sensitivity to ABA increased and thereby drought tolerance war enhanced.
Herbs, also referred to as microgreens, are traditionally used as spices for cooking, and they frequently contain health-promoting substances. When growing them in controlled environments such as greenhouses and particular indoor farms or vertical farms, electrical illumination is required as light source. It is well-known that light not only drives photosynthesis and thus growth, but has many signaling functions in plant physiology, depending on light quantity and quality. Advanced LED technology can help to promote physiological responses of the plants towards production of adequate amounts of healthy compounds in the leaves.
Romanian researchers tested LED technology to modulate light quality so that the production of health-promoting compounds was enhanced in basil plants. They tested effects of red and green light on different cultivars. A LemnaTec Lab Scanalyzer served to monitor growth dynamics of the plants during the experiments. The growth phenotyping data proved that all tested light treatments enabled proper vegetative growth of the plants, whereas higher fractions of blue light slightly enhanced growth compared to the other treatments. For the production of health-promoting substances, light treatments had differential and cultivar-specific effects. All treatments with elevated red or blue light promoted the free radical scavenging capacity compared to white light-grown plants.
LemnaTec scientists Marcus Jansen, Stefan Paulus, Kevin Nagel and Tino Dornbusch published a book chapter in the book “Bioassays” edited by Donat Häder and Gilmar Erzinger. The chapter “Image processing for bioassays” describes the use of a range on non-invasive sensors for measuring phenotypes. It provides insight in processing sensor data towards biological information and delivers a broad range of application examples and use cases.
Developing plants that deliver adequate yield at low water demand is a central goal in plant breeding. Working towards this aim it is essential to understand mechanisms how plant physiology operates to deal with water limitation and thus how plants survive drought events. Two mutants with contrasting drought sensitivity and the Col-0 ecotype were subjected to water limitation while growing on two differnt substrate types. Phenotypic traits were measured with a Lab Scanalyzer HTS with visual light, near-infrared and fluorescence cameras. Differential responses of plant growth to water limitation was genotype- and substrate- dependent. NIR signals indicated that in the drought-sensitive genotype tissue water content decreased faster compared to the non-sensitive mutant or Col-0. https://www.frontiersin.org/ar…/10.3389/fpls.2015.01101/full
Vello, Emilio; Tomita, Akiko; Diallo, Amadou Oury; Bureau, Thomas E. (2015): A Comprehensive Approach to Assess Arabidopsis Survival Phenotype in Water-Limited Condition Using a Non-invasive High-Throughput Phenomics Platform. In: Frontiers in Plant Science 6. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2015.01101.
Bioactive compounds from rare endemic plant species
Conserving and protecting natural environments is highly valuable anyway. However, it promotes access to new sources of useful materials, too. An example from the Brazilian Cerrado shows that bioactive compounds with potential use as herbicides and insecticides can be derived from endemic species like Vellozia gigantea. Researchers from Brazil and USA identified compounds with phytotoxic potential that might be candidates for nature-derived herbicides. A LemnaTec Scanalyzer was used to measure toxicity of the substances towards Lemna paucicostata.
Desert tomato plants grow at minimal water availability
Wild relatives of crops frequently are more resistant to environmental stress factors than modern crop cultivars. Therefore, wild relatives might be sources of genes that improve stress tolerance or resistance. A wild tomato species Solanum pennellii originating from desert environments has thick leaves and copes well with water limitation. Phenotyping with a Greenhouse Scanalyzer revealed that S. penellii plants continued growth at water limiting conditions whereas common tomato plants (S. lycopersicum) stopped growth and leaf area started shrinking due to wilting. Even without water supply, leaf area did not shrink, indicating that wilting was prevented. Although growing slower than common tomato plants in moist soil, the desert-adapted wild tomato plants were able to maintain growth and prevent wilting at drought.
Researchers at the IPK Gatersleben analysed biomass accumulation in barley using a LemnaTec Greenhouse Scanalyzer. Phenotypic data delivered information on temporal patterns and genetic architecture underlying the biomass accumulation.
Nature Plants published a paper on research infrastructures authored by Jacques Roy, François Tardieu, Michèle Tixier-Boichard and Ulrich Schurr, pointing out the importance of phenotyping for the development of agricultural innovations that meet future demand of food and bio-based materials.
Roy, Jacques; Tardieu, François; Tixier-Boichard, Michèle; Schurr, Ulrich (2017): European infrastructures for sustainable agriculture. In: Nature Plants 3 (10), S. 756–758. DOI: 10.1038/s41477-017-0027-3.
When coping with environmental signals, complex networks of signal transduction and regulation processes are triggered. This particularly includes organelle functions. Nuclear-encoded organelle-targeted genes have central functions in such regulations. Mutations in such genes take influence on phenotypes and act pleiotropically. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Lincoln used a Lab Scanalyzer HTS to monitor plant growth in order to quantify mutant effects on growth phenotypes. Mutation-related growth reduction and phenotypic variances were set in relation to transcriptomic changes.
Researchers from the Italian Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops published a review that points out the high importance of phenotyping at various scales for improving future breeding procedures. In particular, when using material from gene banks for horticultural crop breeding, precise phenotypic information is essential.
Duckweed tests deliver data in screening for herbicidal compounds from natural sources
Looking for compounds with herbicidal activity, a fungus (Curvularia intermedia) was isolated from Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves, where it caused wilting symptoms. After isolating fungal metabolites, curvulatin and derivatives, toxicity was proven using a Lemna growth inhibiton test. LemnaTec software enabled growth analysis to figure out effective concentrations of the compounds. Future tests should show whether the substances are suitable for use in weed management.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University tested responses to root zone water availability
Researchers of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University used a LemnaTec Greenhouse Scanalyzer to assess the impact of root zone water availability on shoot growth performance of pakchoi (Brassica rapa chinensis) plants. Aim was to establish a method to discriminate root zone water availability levels by applying shoot phenotyping methods. Visible light and near-infrared camera recordings were processed with LemnaGrid software. Resulting parameters on morphology, colour, and NIR reflectance were used in machine learning approaches in order to conclude from phenotypic traits to the root zone water availability. Particularly colour and NIR reflectance turned out to be good indicators of the root zone water status. This phenotype-based root zone water status rating method offers application potential for irrigation control in horticulture, particularly for indoor-cultivated plants. Phenotype-driven precision irrigation can minimise water stress during cultivation.
Automated growth stage determination with Rothamsted Field Scanalyzer
Current phenotyping technology fulfills tasks that are congruent with many “classical” measurements in agronomy or botany. Howerver, despite measuring the same object, data might lack comparability. One challenge is matching growth stages with non-invasive phenotyping data. Scientists at Rothamsted Research used machine learning methods to derive growth stage information in wheat from Field Scanalyzer-captured images.
Using an HTS Scanalyzer with RGB-, NIR-, and fluorescence cameras, researchers generated 4320 images of Arabidopsis plants in a drought study. Growth responses, water content, and chlorophyll-originating fluorescence signals were used to physiologically characterise the responses of the plants towards water limitation in different severities. Together with ionomic data, phenotypic data help to understand mecahnisms of plants coping with low water availability. The results were published in Functional Plant Biology: