The totality of all the distinctive characteristics of a plant is called its phenotype. It is determined by the interplay between the information laid down in the genetic material and the environmental influences acting during plant development. These interactions determine the structure, functions, performance, resource efficiency and resistance of a plant. All these factors, in turn, play a crucial role in food production and in shaping a sustainable agriculture and bioeconomy. The phenotype of a plant changes over the growing season and with environmental conditions such as temperatures or water supply.
The non-invasive recording of plant growth via imaging during the respective growth period enables the evaluation of plant growth under a wide range of environmental influences. The systems installed at the IPK are used for a wide variety of research purposes, depending on the research question, either more basic or more application-oriented.
The data obtained can be used to establish relationships (associations) between phenotype, genotype and environmental factors (as well as their interaction) and thus, among other things, unravels the effect of genetic and epigenetic variation or the elucidation of the underlying molecular processes and mechanisms. For example, highly relevant is the adaptation of crops to drought stress due to the ongoing climate change. The automatic irrigation and installation of the phenotyping systems in controlled conditions, enables studies on plant growth under relevant drought stress scenarios.
To record phenotypic traits, the IPK Leibniz Institute has five different state-of-the-art imaging facilities. This infrastructure for plant phenotyping is of international importance. The IPK is therefore embedded in networks at national (DPPN), European (EPPN), and international (IPPN) level.