VSI Shoot Phenotyping. Plant phenotyping is critical for understanding plant growth, development, and response to environmental conditions. Imaging techniques enable non-destructive, high-throughput analysis of shoot traits. This provides valuable insights into plant architecture, stress tolerance and yield potential, and facilitates breeding for improved varieties. VSI currently offers the "Shoot Phenobox" phenotyping platform, an open hardware project and open source analysis pipeline, to the scientific community.
Shoot PhenoBox. The Shoot Phenobox is a versatile phenotyping system for the standardized, HT assessment of visual shoot traits in laboratories and greenhouses based on open hardware and open source principles (Czedik‐Eysenberg et al. 2018). The phenotyping system is suitable for medium-sized plants and consists of two main components: the 'Shoot PhenoBox', an imaging chamber that autonomously captures and processes plant images from different perspectives, and the 'PhenoPipe', an open source analytical framework for sample management and image analysis. Vienna Scientific supports researchers to realize open hardware designs. Read more about the ready-to-use Shoot Phenobox System.
Plant shoot phenotyping plays a vital role in plant research and agriculture by providing valuable insights into plant growth, development and response to environmental conditions. Understanding the phenotypic characteristics of plant shoots is crucial for improving crop productivity, stress tolerance, and developing sustainable agricultural practices. Here, we briefly review the importance of plant shoot phenotyping, its application potential, and some of the different imaging approaches used in plant phenotyping.
Plant shoot phenotyping is important for several reasons. First, it allows researchers to study the genetic and environmental factors that influence plant growth and development. By quantifying shoot traits such as architecture, leaf area, biomass accumulation, and branching patterns (over time), scientists can gain a deeper understanding of plant (eco-)physiology and identify key factors that affect crop productivity. Second, shoot phenotyping provides valuable insights into stress responses and tolerance mechanisms in plants. With climate change and increasing environmental challenges, it is critical to develop (crop) varieties that can withstand biotic and abiotic stresses. By studying shoot phenotypes under different stress levels, researchers can identify traits associated with stress tolerance and use this information to breed / select resilient (crop) varieties. In addition, phenotyping facilitates precision agriculture and optimized resource management. By analyzing shoot traits such as leaf chlorophyll content or water use efficiency, growers can make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization and pest management. This targeted approach ensures efficient resource allocation, reduces environmental impact and improves overall crop yield and quality. The application potential of plant shoot phenotyping is therefore vast. It ranges from basic research in plant biology to practical applications in crop improvement and agricultural management. Phenotyping enables the identification of key genes and regulatory pathways involved in shoot development and response to environmental cues. This knowledge can be used to manipulate plant traits for desired outcomes, such as increased yield, nutrient use efficiency or stress tolerance. In crop breeding, shoot phenotyping plays a critical role in the selection and development of superior varieties. By accurately assessing shoot traits in large populations, breeders can identify plants with desirable traits and use them as parent lines for crosses. This accelerates the breeding process and enables the development of new crop varieties with improved traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance or optimized architecture for high-density planting.
Imaging approaches have revolutionized plant phenotyping by providing non-destructive, high-throughput, and accurate measurements. Several imaging techniques are currently used in shoot phenotyping. For example, RGB imaging, using standard digital cameras, captures color information and allows analysis of shoot architecture, leaf area, and color-based stress indicators. It is a cost-effective and widely used approach. Infrared thermography measures the temperature of plant shoots, providing insights into stress responses and water status. By detecting temperature variations, researchers can identify areas of stress or transpiration patterns, helping to optimize irrigation strategies and detect early signs of disease or pest infestations. Increasingly affordable multi- or hyperspectral imaging captures detailed information about the reflectance of plant tissues at different wavebands. This technique allows the quantification of biochemical properties such as chlorophyll content, nitrogen concentration, or disease symptoms. By analyzing spectral signatures, researchers can assess plant health, nutrient status, and stress responses. Finally, 3D imaging techniques, such as laser scanning or rotational imaging with RGB cameras (such as in the Phenobox approach), provide precise measurements of shoot architecture, biomass distribution, and branching patterns. This information is valuable for studying plant growth patterns, optimizing plant spacing, and assessing the efficiency of light interception in dense crop stands.
In summary, shoot phenotyping is essential for understanding plant growth, development, and stress responses and has significant implications for crop improvement and agricultural management. Imaging techniques have revolutionized shoot phenotyping by providing non-destructive, high-throughput, and accurate measurements of shoot traits. The application potential of shoot phenotyping ranges from basic research to practical applications in crop breeding, precision agriculture and resource management, ultimately contributing to sustainable and cost-efficient management practices.