Phenotype: observable and measurable characteristics or traits of a plant

Rapid advances in plant genome biology (genomics) have revolutionized plant science, leading to new discoveries about basic cellular function and leading up to enhancing crop performance. However, after the recent explosion of genomic data, researchers are limited by the ability to translate a plant’s genomic information into observable plant traits, or “phenotypes.” The Purdue Plant Sciences Initiative is investing in phenotyping technology to enable our researchers and students to close the gap between genotype and phenotype.

 Controlled Environments

Researchers who wish to study plant phenotypes under precise environmental control can grow their plants in greenhouses or climate-controlled chambers. These allow for uniform growth conditions that are difficult to replicate in the field so researchers have precise control over experimental variables. In 2016, imaging systems were installed to enable rapid, clear-cut measurements of plant traits such as size and color.

For even better data quality and higher capacity, a new Controlled Environments Phenotyping Facility is planned for 2017. At approximately 7,300 square feet, the state-of-the-art facility will draw on the University’s existing strengths, bringing together engineers who develop new sensor technologies with plant scientists looking to answer novel experimental questions. This facility will accommodate two large climate chambers, each containing conveyors and robots to move and care for plants. Growth areas are linked to a series of automated imaging stations that will also be accessible to image plants from any campus greenhouse or growth space.

Field Phenomics

A new $15 million field phenotyping facility, the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center at Purdue University, serves as a hub that brings together Indiana farmers, industry, University faculty and students for a data revolution. By using state-of-the-art technology to measure and analyze characteristics of crops, they are able to translate information about individual plants to field scale.

This new 25,500 square foot facility is located at Purdue’s Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE), a 1,134 acre field research station. The center uses automated systems such as drones and advanced sensors to collect billions of measurements that will quantify differences in plant characteristics such as canopy area, leaf area, height and photosynthetic activity. The data will be used to create new crop varieties that can better withstand stresses, have improved nutritional attributes, and produce greater yield, among other important characteristics.

The Innovation Center fosters multidisciplinary research and brings profitable innovations to farmers. Genetics, weather and soil information will be combined with automated plant analysis to increase farmer profitability and ensure more precise application of nutrients, thus protecting the environment.

This investment creates a platform for STEM education, bringing together engineers, aviation scientists, computer scientists and agronomists to apply their knowledge to the most pressing problems in plant sciences in the most difficult and important environment – the field that impacts our entire food production system.

Find Us

Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center
4750 U.S. 52 West
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: 765-494-2007

Click here to request a tour!

From the North: Take exit 193 for U.S. 231 south. Turn left on U.S. 52 W. Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center is on the left.

From the South: Take I 65 N. to exit 175, turn left on to Schuyler Ave. Turn right onto Sagamore Pkwy N. follow thru W. Lafayette and continue on 52 W. to the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center on the right.