Phenotyping for improved biomass

When growing plants for bio-energy, it is highly desirable to avoid any competition with food production and to minimise any energy-demanding agricultural management such as fertilisation. Thus, ideally such plants grow on marginal land without adding fertiliser and without irrigation. The discrepancy between low resource availability and maximised biomass production should be overcome by highly efficient genotypes, e.g. of the genus Miscanthus. Researchers from Britain and Brazil subjected different Miscanthus lines to high and low nutrient conditions, and each variant received high or low water supply. The LemnaTec Greenhouse Scanalyzer in Aberystwyth was used to analyse growth and development of the plants in a time-resolved manner. Height and projected area derived from the images served to measure growth responses. Colour analysis delivered data on leaf yellowing as response to stress conditions. These data, together with further physiological and biochemical information allowed to rank the genotypes due to their stress tolerance. Information on biomass production and quality under given environmental factors serves to select genotypes for practical applications.

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