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Root Phenotyping

Comprehensive non-destructive imaging of root development in a high-throughput manner has remained difficult for plant researchers. Understanding the root system offers significant opportunities in advancing fundamental biology as well as the commercial improvement of crops (e.g. characterising the role of the roots in drought adaptation). WPS has developed a range of products for recording root development in controlled environments as well as under field-like conditions.

WPS offers flexibility and accuracy through simple and affordable root imaging containers on semi- and fully automated conveyance systems. WPS has developed light-tight adapter plates that provide shading to transparent pots (see below) such that root development on the inside of the plant pots can be recorded over time. Parameters that can be measured include:
• Root length
• Root diameter
• Growth rates
• Necrosis
• Total root area


WPS can provide a suite of growth and conveyance systems that can be utilised for a range of applications. For example, WPS has developed a unique capability of providing for ebb/ flood watering on the conveyor system.

WPS also provides growth benches for breeders and researchers to study plant growth and physiology in field-like planting densities under outdoor conditions or within semi or fully controlled environments. WPS growth benches, up to 6×9m, can also be provided with a transparent base to facilitate imaging of root development over time whilst concurrently analysing the shoot phenotype (e.g., under drought stress conditions or biotic stress associated with root fungal pathogens). Growing plants on benches provides the user greater uniformity and flexibility and boosts efficiency of the entire phenotyping process.
In summary,
• WPS benches can be made in a wide range of dimensions
• WPS benches can be equipped for growing plants in pots, trays, crates etc
• WPS benches can be combined with WPS conveyors to get to enable a fully automated digital phenotyping setup
• WPS also has the robotics systems to manipulate plants on- and from the benches
Plants can also be managed through various irrigation regimes depending on plant requirements. For example:
• Full bench ebb/ flood
• Overhead irrigation
• Precision irrigation per plant

Various sensors can be integrated into a benching system. Depending on the phenotyping objectives, sensors for imaging individual plants can be combined with sensors to examine an entire bench, providing measures at population level.
Further, if the objective is to grow plants whilst stimulating plant-plant interactions, but use the full potential of individual plant imaging in 3D this can also be achieved by combining the benching systems with a WPS conveyor system.
WPS provides an NIR root imaging sensor designed for monitoring and comparing the water status of plants, or for assessing variations of the water status within different plant tissues. The sensors records data in the absorbance bands between 900 and 1700 nm- plants that are adequately hydrated show high absorbance of NIR (and low reflectance), whereas those subject to drying shows greater reflectance in the spectral band.
A separate light isolated box is provided which holds a side view oriented NIR camera for root imaging and for water distribution assessment in the root tissues. A visible RGB imaging camera with high resolution is provided together with the NIR camera for side view root imaging and for characterisation of spatial root structure and morphology.
Applying a false color palette to the images allows the researcher to quickly identify plants that are water compromised compared to those that are maintaining a healthier water status. In this respect, the NIR imaging station is important when studying dynamic responses to drought stress and screening for plants with enhanced water use efficiency.
WPS Experimental Control Software allows individual plants to be tracked through an imposed drought cycle so that the time-course of the onset of drought stress, and dynamics of response to re-watering, can be monitored. In addition, morphometric parameters, and measurements of photochemical efficiency, may be correlated with stress and recovery events.
Whether it is highly accurate abiotic stress such as water-logging (e.g. yield loss due to flooding in Bangladesh and India alone amounts to an estimated 4 million tons of rice per year - enough to feed 30 million people), or water use efficiency studies, WPS provides solutions, with precision watering strategies and delivery, to non-destructively assess root development and change dynamically in real soil conditions.

[Quick Link here to WPS sensors]
[Quick Link here to WPS conveyance systems]