KeyGene and The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced a collaboration to strengthen the plant imaging capabilities at the newly built, one-of-a-kind Bellwether Phenotyping Facility at the Danforth Center in St. Louis, Mo. This technology increases the pace of scientific discovery, as well as applications that impact agricultural productivity.

“Accurate phenotyping is difficult to perform due to high subjectivity. This is often the bottleneck for translation of genetic research findings into breeding practices where selection of traits like yield is based on phenotypes of the crops. This collaboration will not only strengthen the position of the phenotyping facilities of the Danford Center but will also open more opportunities to collaborate on interesting research projects,” says Arjen van Tunen, CEO of KeyGene.

"This collaboration between the Danforth Center and KeyGene will be critical to bringing our new phenotyping facility into full production mode quickly. KeyGene has vast expertise and analytical tools that our scientists will be using to get the most value out of their high-throughput experiments using both model plants and crops," said Danforth Center President, Jim Carrington, Ph.D.

The system combines a temperature and light-controlled plant growth environment with a conveyer system to move plants through three instrument chambers. Real-time measurements of plant growth, photosynthetic ability and water content are captured using three-dimensional imaging techniques. The Danford Center collaborated with Conviron and LemnaTec to design and build the Bellwether Phenotyping Facility, which allows non-destructive analysis of up to 1140 small to medium sized plants at multiple points over a desired growth period.

KeyGene and the Danforth Center will work closely together for one year to get the phenotyping system implemented, based on lessons learned during the execution of phenotyping abiotic stress experiments in the Netherlands. The resulting datasets utilizing the phenotyping system will be used to apply for grant funding for joint research projects.