PhenoAIxpert HTC Installation at a Leading American University

Our new PhenoAIxpert HTC is being installed at a leading University in the USA. They are among the first customers to run this innovative phenotyping system that delivers multi-camera phenotyping at limited footprint.

The multi-sensory system enables morphological and physiological phenotyping of crop plants with a total sample height up to 70 cm and width up to 50 cm. With photographic, chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics and hyperspectral cameras, the system addresses growth, development, photosynthesis, stress, diseases, environmental responses and more. It is applicable in many areas such as plant research, breeding, or product development. The comprehensive software package drives the whole chain from data acquisition to data analysis, including advanced image processing tools and options for machine learning-based analyses. The semi-automated system is user-preloaded with plants that automatically move along imaging stations.

Multi-camera phenotyping

The RGB camera setup allows horizontal and vertical views on the plants. In horizontal view, turning the plant in front of the lens provides multi-view images that deliver information on the spatial architecture of the plants. RGB images deliver a broad range of features including size, morphology, and color of the plants. Time series enable studying growth and development.

The hyperspectral cameras – VNIR and SWIR – are mounted on an automatically controlled axis system that enable scanning along the vertical axis of the plant, and after tilting the cameras by 90° scanning horizontally above the plants. Hyperspectral data deliver physiological information, e.g. on stress and disease responses or on biochemical properties.

The chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics imaging system combines extremely strong LED light that ensures reliable saturation of the photosystems with high-resolution imaging. The LED control system enables triggering all standard fluorescence parameters that are required in chlorophyll fluorescence analyses. While the main scope is quick screening of higher numbers of samples with quantum yield captions, it is possible to run detailed protocols on single plants to measure fluorescence induction and light response curves.

Analytical software

All recorded images and data are systematically stored and are accessible to the users. The comprehensive image processing tools delivered with the system enable feature extraction from all image data. The LemnaGrid graphical programming package that is included with the system enables the users to program their own analytical workflows using a large library of analytical functions. The advantage of this graphical programming is that system users, e.g., biologists or breeders, can easily acquire knowledge on programming of image processing – much faster than it would take to learn command-line programming. Moreover, LemnaTec offers the design of custom-specific analyses, including artificial intelligence-based methods.

Automation system

While classical conveyor-based installations – our PhenoAIxpert HT – automatically drive plants from growth spaces to imaging stations and back, the PhenoAIxpert HTC operates semi-automatic. The system is pre-loaded with samples by the operator and then moves up to twelve samples along the imaging stations. At these stations advanced light setups combined with state-of-the art cameras enable high-quality imaging that sets the basis for proper generation of phenotypic data.

The PhenoAIxpert HTC ensures high precision in phenotyping. This is reflected by its robust construction consisting of industry-grade parts that are made for long-term use. All parts are designed in a way that imaging and scanning takes place in a precise way, without vibrations or offsets between measurements. A seamless communication between hard- and software allows automatic measurements according to user-defined protocols.

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The PhenoAIxpert HTC system at the customer’s laboratory.
Schematic view at the PhenoAIxpert HTC and its components.
Hyperspectral scanning unit and RGB camera with corresponding lights inside the PhenoAIxpert HTC.
Imaging unit for chlorophyll fluorescence dynamics consisting of camera and LEDs for saturation light pulses.
Exemplary analysis of a tomato plant – from the photograph over processing steps to the segmented and analyzed plant.