News of the WeekIMAGING

With ‘Phenomics,’ Plant Scientists Hope to Shift Breeding Into Overdrive

Science  24 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5939, pp. 380-381
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_380

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Borrowing imaging techniques from medicine, phenomics offers plant scientists new windows into the inner workings of living plants: infrared cameras to scan temperature profiles, spectroscopes to measure photosynthetic rates, lidar to gauge growth rates, and MRI to reveal root physiology. Institutes worldwide are racing to build facilities with instrument arrays that can scan thousands of plants a day in an approach to science akin to high-throughput DNA sequencing. The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, a new $40 million venture that is the first national lab of its kind in the world, opened its High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre in Canberra last week. And other countries are ramping up fast.