Seed mass and dimensions are key factors for seed quality and for seedling development. In practical applications, such factors frequently are approximated by using scanning methods delivering 2D data (e.g. projected area), that are referred to as seed size. Measuring seed 3D traits or seed mass of single seeds delivers higher degrees of accuracy to determine seed properties.

To address this issue, we – LemnaTec together with Forschungszentrum Jülich – have introduced the phenoSeeder platform (Jahnke et al., 2016) which enables handling and phenotyping of individual seeds of very different sizes. Whereas many traditional methods work on seed batches, the phenoSeeder gives access to single seed data and is therefore suitable for seed-to-plant tracking.

The phenoSeeder has a 2D imaging unit as standard configuration, and we offer 3D imaging and seed weighing as optional accessories; moreover, the modular design gives space for adding further sensing equipment. For weighing, highly sensitive balances (e.g. for Arabidopsis seeds) are available, as well as balances dedicated for most crop seeds (wheat, rapeseed etc.).

The phenoSeeder not only characterizes the seeds depending on the configuration, it equally allows placing the seeds in a coordinated manner. Thereby, seeds can be sorted basing on the measured properties, or they can be placed into pots for growing or onto paper for germination tests. Thereby, the placed seeds and the resulting plants are immediately connected to the seed phenotypic properties, such as dimensions and weight.

In the phenoSeeder 2D imager configuration, images of the projected area of the seeds are acquired. Data on seed length, width, morphology, and colour can be derived from these images.
In the phenoSeeder 3D imager configuration, a 3D imaging station is included, where seeds are photographed from all sides and seed volume together with 3D morphology are measured. The 2D imaging is available by default, too.

Phenoseeder configuration and options

Phenoseeder basic configuration
2D ImagerSeed projected area, length, width, morphology, colour
Phenoseeder optional technical features
3D ImagerSeed volume, 3D morphology
Standard balanceFor most crop seeds
High sensitivity balanceFor minute seeds, e.g. Arabidopsis
Specific racks for seed placingUpon request

References from the developers at Forschungszentrum Jülich

Jahnke S, Roussel J, Hombach T, Kochs J, Fischbach A, Huber G, Scharr H (2016) phenoSeeder – A Robot System for Automated Handling and Phenotyping of Individual Seeds. PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 172:1358–1370

Roussel J, Geiger F, Fischbach A, Jahnke S, Scharr H (2016) 3D Surface Reconstruction of Plant Seeds by Volume Carving: Performance and Accuracies. Front. Plant Sci. 7:745


The Germination Scanalyzer can analyze coated and uncoated seeds of various plant species differing in size, colour and shape. Classification and quantification of seed characteristics based on predefined criteria (number, size, colour, and shape) include:

  • Seed morphological parameters (size, roundness)
  • Seed colour and colour distribution

Detection of seed germination

The central purpose of the GERMINATION SCANALYZER is detecting and quantifiying the seed germination. Every seed with a detected root segment (within the observation radius) is marked as germinated. To optimize root detection, a number of rules are applied, for example, proximity aspect, region of interest and germination cues.

The length of the root is measured on the basis of the medial axis of the detected root shape. Results can be reported in different formats, according to user requirements, and statistically analyzed.

The following parameters are measured in the germination assay:

  • Percentage of seed germination
  • Germination time (in time series analysis)
  • Seedling morphological parameters (root length, hypocotyl length; depending on visibility)
  • Seedling colour and colour distribution

The germination assay can be run in a manually operated Lab Scanalyzer, too.

Example for large scale automated system

  • Capacity 840 trays (each tray 253 mm x 364 mm)
  • All 840 trays can be imaged once every 6 hours
  • 1 x 28 MP RGB camera, 2 x LED light panels
  • Each tray can be weighed to assess water content
  • Trays can be loaded from trollies (68 trays per trolley)
  • Height 3145 mm, Length 6432 mm, Depth 2910 mm
  • Fully automated storage, handling and imaging

Technical Specifications

Camera Visible light camera
Illumination LED panels
Automation Shelf operating system for tray movement
  • 12 trays (compact basic unit)
  • Shelf system for 210 trays
  • Shelf system for 420 trays
  • Shelf system for 840 trays
Control Dedicated Windows PC plus database server
Software Process & experiment control, Germination detection and quantification, Data processing and export
Options Scale for tray weight

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