The High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre


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Currently, there is a gap between plant scientists’ capacities to measure the molecular or genetic level - genomics - and the functional whole-plant level - phenomics.

Each plant pot is barcoded ensuring measurements are recorded to the specific plant and can be tracked individually throughout the system.

Genomics is providing a huge amount of data that is retrieved using high-throughput technologies but our ability to measure functionality, such as water use and photosynthesis, at the whole plant level has lagged behind.

By providing an integrated system with a range of imaging sensors, PlantScan helps restore this balance by increasing researchers’ capacities to precisely and accurately quantify the biological processes involved in the development and functioning of plants with greater detail, frequency and objectivity than traditional methods.

Engineered in-house with the assistance from Neo Vista System Integrators, PlantScan provides plant scientists with a medium throughput high resolution plant analysis system to study plant growth and function over time.

PlantScan provides non-invasive analyses of plant structure (topology, surface orientation, number of leaves), morphology (leaf size, shape, colour, area, volume) and function by utilising cutting edge information technology including high resolution cameras and three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction software.

It is enabling plant scientists to better understand the complex interactions involved in plant growth - the plant's genetic make-up, its physical characteristics and the environment in which it grows.

How it works

Each plant pot is barcoded ensuring measurements are recorded to the specific plant and can be tracked individually throughout the system.

The pots are carried to the imaging chamber via a chorus of laser guided conveyer belts and mechanical arms.

Once inside the imaging chamber the plant is raised and rotated to allow for the required measurements and imaging to be recorded.

When functioning at full capacity PlantScan will produce an estimated two terabytes of data per day.

PlantScan is the first plant analysis system of its kind, providing automated analysis of plant growth and function overtime using 3D reconstruction and multispectral images.Measurements include:

  • leaf size
  • number of leaves
  • shape
  • topology (study of constant properties)
  • surface orientation
  • leaf colour
  • plant area and volume.

The software not only tracks individual plants through the system, it also records the precise structure of the plant so that components of the plant can be compared over time, for example the first leaf to emerge. While the plant is in the imaging chamber scientists are able to observe the plant via a web cam

PlantScan is able to scan seedlings or plants ranging in size from a few centimetres to a couple of metres in height and up to a metre thick.

After exiting the image chamber the pots are returned to their growth chamber or glasshouse until their next visit to PlantScan.

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The Specs

PlantScan brings together a number of imaging tools in order to record detailed images and measurements of plant growth and function:

  • Light Detection and Ranging Sensors (LiDAR) for 3D plant canopy architecture measurement
  • two far-infrared imaging cameras for canopy temperature measurements
  • multi-wavelength imaging for pigment or chemical composition spanning both visible and near-infrared.

By overlaying the images these instruments record a comprehensive and detailed atlas of plants can be compiled. Useful not only for the respective experiment but as a reference for all.

PlantScan is enabling scientists to gain a better understanding of the complex interactions between plant architecture, the physiological processes driving plant development in time and space, and the physical plant environment.


The TrayScan plant analysis system incorporates 3 cameras, colour, thermal and chlorophyll fluorescence, to image an entire tray of small plants such as Arabidopsis or Brachypodium and is able to create 3D images of the these small plants along with thermal and chlorophyll fluorescence images.

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The audio for this video is a electronic music track titled “Herbal Trip Dub” by Jah Acid Dub. The video shows trays of wheat plants in pots, 8 pots to a tray. The trays move along the conveyer belt into the TrayScan chamber. Once in the chamber the door closes behind the tray and red lights flash recording the temperature of the leaves. The tray then moves to a second point in the chamber where it pauses. The lights pulse measuring a range of photosynthetic parameters. The tray moves across the chamber to the exit door where a white light flashes recording the plant’s size for monitoring growth over time. The exit door then raises and the tray exits the chamber.