The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility provides a knowledge base and facilities for the comprehensive and continuous analysis of plant growth and performance using modern technologies.
5 May 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011
Phenomics is the study of how the genetic makeup of an organism determines its appearance, function and performance.
Coupled with gene analysis technologies, phenomics has the potential to revolutionise the way that researchers tackle key issues in plant and agricultural biology. '
development of new high yielding crops for global food security
development of novel products for healthy foods
development of sustainable practices in agriculture in the face of climate change
maintenance of biodiversity and the development of new strategies for the remediation of degraded landscapes
use of plants as biofactories to produce new pharmaceuticals and other products for industry.
About the Facility
The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility consists of The Plant Accelerator (to be established in Adelaide, South Australia) and the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (opened in August 2009 in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory), which is the first of its kind in the public sector anywhere in the world.
The Facility makes non-destructive and destructive measurements on parts of the plant that are above and below the ground throughout the plant's lifecycle.
By linking these measurements to the plant's genetic makeup, new plant varieties can be selected using the genetic diversity in cultivated and wild plants.
The Facility provides:
sophisticated controlled environments for growing plants across a range of climatic conditions
glasshouse automation technologies to study large populations of plants rapidly and efficiently
leading edge digital imaging technologies and sophisticated software to measure, in real time, plant characteristics and their performance
the capacity to 'scale-up' plant performance measurements from the glasshouse to the field
a national focus for scientists to collaborate on key agricultural and biological research problems
a unique and integrated system for the rapid capture of genetic resource information and its shared use across Australian agriculture.
The Plant Accelerator – Adelaide
The Plant Accelerator, which will be located at the University of Adelaide's Waite Campus, will use robotic techniques to take 3D images of plants, recording their size, colour, temperature and provide an insight into overall plant health.
The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is an initiative of the Australian Government conducted as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.
The Plant Accelerator is the first public sector facility of its type and scale in the world. It will consist of a series of hi-tech greenhouses and laboratories that can accommodate 160 000 plants a year.
This high-throughput facility will be available for all Australian plant scientists and will greatly assist researchers in 'phenotyping' plants - that is, identifying the role of each plant gene in the function of the whole plant.
High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre – Canberra
The High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre is primarily located in Canberra at CSIRO Plant Industry and the Australian National University (ANU).
The Centre is adapting and applying the next generation of research tools to probe plant function and performance, under controlled conditions and in the field.
Recent advances in robotics, imaging and computing are being used to applying these technologies and scaling them from the single plant to the ecosystem level.
Housed in the renovated Canberra Phytotron at CSIRO Plant Industry, the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre began research activities in August 2009.
The high throughput model plant module will be established in the new Biosciences building at the ANU, anticipated to open at the end of 2009.
Support for the Facility
The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is an initiative of the Australian Government conducted as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
It is supported by the South Australian and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) governments, along with the partner organisations and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. The project is a collaboration between CSIRO, ANU, University of Adelaide and industry groups.
Total investment in the Facility across Adelaide and Canberra is over A$40 million.
Investment in the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre in Canberra totals around A$18 million. This includes direct financial support of:
A$5.24 million from NCRIS
A$5.8 million from CSIRO
A$3.5 million from the ANU
A$1.1 million from the ACT Government.
CSIRO and ANU are also supporting the facility through running costs and staffing, making up the remainder of the investment.
Funding from the ACT Government will go towards postdoctoral research training fellowships, travel bursaries for users to travel to the ACT and PhD top-ups to support students.
Read more about the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility [external link].