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E.B. Solomont, Reporter- St. Louis Business Journal
Sep 23, 2013, 1:24pm CDT The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has opened a new phenotyping facility that’s a growth chamber capable of taking continuous pictures of plants.
Danforth officials said the $3.5 million facility opened in time for its two-day Fall Symposium, which starts Sept. 25. The 1,755-square-foot facility includes a 680-square-foot growth chamber that enables scientists to control temperature, humidity and light intensity. The facility also has automated, continuous plant imaging to give scientists detailed feedback on their experiments.
“That’s a huge step forward for the way we think about measuring how plants grow, and understanding what plants are doing,” said Ivan Baxter, USDA research scientist and principal investigator at the Danforth Plant Science Center. “We’re taking advantage of the fact that cameras have gotten much better. We can move plants through automatically, to really ask, ‘How big is this plant on this day’ and ‘How well is it doing photosynthesis, how much water does it have?’”
The Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility, which can accommodate 1,140 small- to medium-sized plants, was designed and built by Conviron, which builds growth chambers, and LemnaTech, an image processor based in Germany.
In addition to the imaging system, the robotic conveyor system moves plants through watering and nutrient stations.
The first experiments will test bioenergy grasses’ response to heat and drought conditions.