Gregoire Hummel at the Greenhouse

Why automated plant phenotyping?

The concept of plant phenotyping is really nothing new. Every plant biologist, breeder or even grower “phenotypes” his plants, which is nothing else than assessing quantitative and qualitative traits of plants either to answer a biological question, breed for new cultivars or just control and improve processes in plant production. The use of the term “plant phenotyping” today is the task to capture the phenotypic variability of huge genetic collections and associate it with the underlying genetic background. Interestingly, the last decades have been dedicated to improving the pace and reducing the costs of sequencing. This resulted in tons of genetic information, however the functioning of genes still remains unclear. Nowadays, there is a demand to phenotype all this material and see what combination of genes is responsible for a specific phenotype.



PlantEye – 3D Laser Scanner

PlantEye 3D Laser scanner for Plant phenotyping moving over a field

PlantEye is a 3D laser scanner designed for the operation under harsh environments. PlantEye follows the “Sensor-to-Plant-Concept” and it…

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FieldScale – gravimetric system

FieldScan system for measuring transpiration rates in semi field conditions

FieldScale is a scalable weighing system for pots and containers ranging from 1 to 500 kg. FieldScale is placed directly on the ground where plants…

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DroughtSpotter is a fully automated gravimetric platform to assess transpiration dynamics of plants with a precision of up to 1g…

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Data Management Software

Phenospex software helps to analyse plant phenotyping data on various levels

Phenospex provides a complete data solution for all data acquired by PlantEye, DroughtSpotter and our environmental stations…

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The Phenospex FieldScan is a field novel platform for ultra-high throughtput plant phenotying for field- or semi field applications…

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What have we learned from plant phenotyping so far?

Although over the last years the number of large scale plant phenotyping systems and the amount of publications using such systems strongly increased, there is one conclusion we can draw: Having an automation with some sensors is not a guarantee to finding an interesting phenotype and its underlying genetic mechanism. This holds especially true for the commercially interesting parameters like yield, biomass, growth or abiotic tolerances like drought resistance etc.


Development of publication in plant phenotyping since 2004


So, is high throughput plant phenotyping going to save the world of tomorrow? It will definitely play a role. The extraordinary complexity of the genes and their interaction with the environment requires much more knowledge than we ever expected. Considering the on-going global change, the strong impact of agriculture on the planet and the exploding global population, there is a strong urge to adapt our crops faster and more efficiently to the upcoming scenarios and demands. Therefore it is crucial to increase the pace of research gain, required for faster and more efficient plant breeding. Hence more experiments and trials have to be performed which requires automation and higher throughput.


The amount of suppliers that offer automated plant phenotyping solutions is strongly increasing and at the same time prices for plant phenotyping systems are decreasing. However, just increasing the amount of plant phenotyping systems worldwide will not help to solve the underlying problems we faced over the last years. We clearly need to keep in mind that even the best automation and the biggest data set will not provide us any answer if we do not have an appropriate question. The extraordinary complexity of the functioning of genes can only be tackled with well-thought-out concepts and questions, cleverly designed experiments, and knowledge of how to implement the findings into models for prediction.


What Phenospex can offer for plant phenotyping?

We at Phenospex believe in the idea of using plant phenotyping as a tool in a question driven research environment.

All our systems are designed, manufactured and tested here at Phenospex only with the purpose to deliver meaningful information. We not only deliver resilient and clean data sets but also offer biological expertise and statistical analysis functionalities to seamlessly connect science and technology.

With this approach we have developed a set of unique plant phenotyping systems ranging from flexible 3D scanners over high throughput weighing and watering systems to fully automated field platforms for thousands of plants.

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