A cost-effective and modular approach to small-plant digital phenotyping
With increasing demand to support and accelerate progress in breeding for novel traits, the plant research community faces the need to accurately measure increasingly large numbers of plants and plant parameters. The goal is to provide quantitative analyses of plant structure and function relevant for traits that help plants better adapt to low input agriculture and resource-limited environments.
Many smaller plants are commonly used today in the search for traits of interest- whether it be plant models such as Arabidopsis, Brachypodium, Medicago or early vegetative stages of larger crops, WPS individually project designs each system fit-for-purpose to ensure that the researchers needs or the institutes needs are fulfilled.
WPS also recognises the inherent problems associated with first-generation phenotyping systems such as costs, data quality, system capacity, system reliability and the need to combine comprehensive root and shoot analyses.
The essential factors towards improved digital phenotyping results:
1. Relevant information. For example, the WPS RGB sensor acquires top images plus 72 side images, including image analysis, in approximately 4 seconds. This facilitates excellent 3D reconstruction of plants for accurate determination of biomass; growth rates and particularly anatomical features such as tillers, ears, panicles and other yield related features are accurately quantified.
2. The high-throughput nature of our imaging systems ensure that all plants can be imaged within the shortest possible timeframe- necessary for biologically accurate data with simple low-tech, low cost engineering solutions that deliver.
3. Based on its long experience in the horticultural industry, WPS has designed and commissioned systems that easily handle over 100,000 plants on a daily basis. WPS engineering solutions include low cost, novel plant carriers that remove the bulk of the weight from the conveyor and back onto the supporting framework resulting in a significant reduction in the number of expensive drive motors.
4. Operational efficiency is maintained by utilizing similar engineering principles of our horticultural plant conveyance systems- this means robustness and reliability. Furthermore, the WPS software suite contains easy-to-use, intuitive features that do not require highly trained super users for easy programming of experiments, running features and system status quo.
In summary, WPS recognizes the need for increased quality of data, larger test populations able to be screened affordably and the need for innovative engineering solutions for operational efficiency.
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Sensor only setup
WPS offers researchers low-cost entry points to HT small-plant digital phenotyping such as single imaging cabins (seen here) equipped with a variety of sensors for top and side imaging.
Traditionally the workhorse of digital plant Phenotyping, and by far the best sensor to start with, is RGB visible light imaging. This sensor provides accurate and intuitive information on growth rates and color effects on plants in several stages of development and comes with an array of ready to use parameters that can be correlated to the traits of interest in mature plants.
The WPS RGB sensor also comes with tooling that enable the user to define custom crop and assay specific color based parameters. These custom parameters can be created easily by selecting the pixels of the trait of interest from any image from the dataset and use these settings to quantify the selected trait on all the other images in the dataset.
Besides the RGB sensor the WPS Phenotyping systems can also be equipped with one or more of below sensors if these would be of value for achieving your research objectives:
- Fluorescence for PSII
- Multi/ -(Hyper)spectral
- Root imaging.
All systems are supplied with a full software suite and PC workstation.
Further automation options
All WPS small-plant phenotyping systems, whether it is single or multi-cabinet configurations, are easily able to be upgraded to more automated systems which might include conveyor systems or other equipment for automated high-throughput digital phenotyping. Examples of these upgrades are:
- High-throughput imaging turntable
- Watering and weigh station
- Manual loading loop for loading multi-pots and/or multi-trays and then automated imaging and image analysis
- Custom database structures and fileservers
- Automated leaf sampling for genetic or biochemical analyses
Our small plant phenotyping systems can also be pre- constructed and tested in the WPS facility, this results in the systems having rapid install times on-site with virtual plug n play capability.
Multi measurement sensor
Imaging cabins may also be equipped with our multi-measurement kit sensor integrated imaging of:
- chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics
- Spectral imaging (i.e. Chlorophyll, Anthocyanins)
This sensor captures multiple images that can be analyzed and generate pixel-to-pixel correlated results per plant. The following images can be delivered during one cycle without moving the plant:
- Fo fluorescence image of a dark adapted plant when all the reaction centers are open
- Fm fluorescence image of a dark adapted plant when all the reaction centers are closed
- Ft fluorescence image of a plant exposed to light
- Ft=5min fluorescence image of a plant that is exposed to actinic light during 5 min.
- Fm’ fluorescence image of a plant that is exposed to light when all the reaction centers are closed
- RNIR reflectance image at NIR wavelength
- RChl. reflectance image at chlorophyll wavelength
- RAnth reflectance image at anthocyanin wavelength
- RRed reflectance image for red channel of colour image
- RGreen reflectance image for green channel of colour image
- RBlue reflectance image for blue channel of colour image;
With above images the following calculated photosynthetic parameters can be extracted. Please note that depending on which parameters should be calculated specific adaptation and measurement conditions might be needed
- PhiPSII ,
- qP and
- Chlorlophyll index
- Anthocyanin index