The phenotyping group at ACPFG

Phenotyping of plants in various environments is an essential activity to discover genes helpful for abiotic stress tolerance and Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE). The phenotyping group at ACPFG manages all facilities from growth chambers to field sites, provides assistance in phenotyping to all groups at ACPFG when needed, develops tools for phenotyping, and conducts research with a focus on field phenotyping. Specific activities include:

The “Bin Pipeline”: ACPFG uses forward as well as reverse genetic approaches to improve abiotic stress tolerance and NUE of wheat and barley. To evaluate promising transgenic leads in the greenhouse, we developed a phenotyping platform in large soil-filled containers. These large bins imitate field conditions better than individual plants in pots. The setup consists of 32 bins which can be used two times a year. All bins are fully equipped with an irrigation system and sensors for soil water tension, air temperature and air humidity.

Field trials: The final test for all promising germplasm or screening populations is the field. For conventional germplasm we have some netted fields around the institute, and we organize and conduct field trials with external service providers in farmers’ fields. For transgenic wheat and barley, we have one field site in South Australia and three more in Western Australia, two of them operated by DAFWA.

Phenotyping includes all types of measurements, from counting stomata on leaves to measuring grain yields in small field plots. Often, this is done by hand which makes the phenotyping of large numbers of plants very expensive and time consuming. Therefore, we are developing partly automated systems with our partners, often including image-based analyses. Currently we are testing mobile platforms and drones carrying various sensors which will open the way for fast and precise phenotyping of large field trials.

Our partners include:

Phenomics and Bioinfomatics Research Centre, University of South Australia, headed by Prof. Stanley J. Miklavcic

Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility, University of Adelaide, headed by Assoc. Prof. Lian Pin Koh

The Plant Accelerator, University of Adelaide, headed by Assoc. Prof. Rachel Ward

People:

Dr. Stephan Haefele, Dr. Nataliya Kovalchuk, Dr. Ursula Langridge, Alex Kovalchuk, Yury Onyskiv, Sanjiv Satjia, Yunfei Yang, Ikram Muhammad, Isaac Wamatsembe and visiting students.

Projects:

AISRF33760 (2015-2016). Fleury D, Haefele S, Baumann U, Collins N, Singh K, Kaur S, Sharma Pradeep, Sharma Priti, Tiwari R, Sheoran S, Yadav I. Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. Mining alleles for heat tolerance of wheat in Australian and Indian environments for development of heat resilient cultivars.

LP140100557 (2015-2017). ARC-Linkage. Baumann U, Collins N, Haefele S, Praud S. Exploring genetic diversity to identify new heat tolerance genes in wheat.

IH130200027 (2015-2019). ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub. Heuer S, Appelbee M-J, Baumann U, Borisjuk N, Collins N, Fleury D, Haefele S, Juttner J, Kaiser B, Kuchel H, Landridge P, Miklavcic S, Mullan D, Okamoto M. Genetic diversity and molecular breeding for wheat in a hot and dry climate.

LP140100347 (2015-2018). Miklavcic Stanley, Langridge Peter, Cai Jinhai, Laga Hamid, Haefele Stephan, Burton Rachel: Field and quasi-field phenotyping for the quantitative characterisation of wheat yield under stress. ARC Linkage Projects 2014.

RMO File: 2014/12558 (2015-2018). Barrett-Lennard, E., Haefele, S., Heuer, S., Setter, T., Collins, N., Roy, S., Nield, J., Smart, K., Cox, A.: Production trials to assess the differences between the biodiversity associated with the tolerance of wheat and barley GMOs. Western Australian Agriculture Authority and University of Adelaide.

ARC LIEF Projects 2016, LE160100064 (submitted). L.P. Koh, J. Buhl, S. Haefele, D. Ranasinghe, K. Falkner, E.G. Ritchie, D. Ierodiaconou, R. Clarke, A. Lucieer. Unmanned Research Aircraft Laboratory.

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