An essential part of plant science is understanding how plants respond to their environment. One way our scientists can measure this is by monitoring a plant’s phenotype, such as leaf size and shape, root structure, growth rate in particular conditions, and more. In our Phenotyping Facility, the first of its kind at an academic research institute in the U.S., our scientists are able to gather an unprecedented amount of data about the plants they are studying. This data is used to develop improved and sustainable crops that are better able to withstand conditions like drought and extreme temperatures.

The Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility & Services

The Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility is an integrated growth chamber and imaging facility. 

Conviron Growth House

Controlled environment chamber custom manufactured to house a complex moving-field conveyor belt system for delivery of plants to and from the imaging chambers.  Lighting intensity, temperature and relative humidity are precisely controlled, allowing for flexibility in experimental design.

Weighing and Watering

The system has 5 watering and weighing stations that are customizable to deliver water and nutrients on a specified schedule by volume or weight. The whole chamber can be weighed and watered multiple times a day to maintain a consistent environment.

Daily Imaging

RGB imaging allows visualization and quantification of plant color and structural morphology. Near-infrared (NIR) enables visualization and quantification of plant water-use efficiency. Plants are imaged from the side and top, and can be rotated between images to allow all sides of the plant to be viewed.

Other extended services may be offered based on time and labor availability, at an additional charge:

  • Planting, sampling, harvesting, thinning
  • Ground-truthing
  • Image processing support
  • Raspberry Pi setup and troubleshooting

Extended Services

PhenoVation CropReporter

Stand-alone multi-spectral imaging chamber for detection and analysis of Photosystem II, chlorophyll, anthocyanin and color. Whole plant, LED-induced, direct fluorescence imaging in dark or light adapted conditions, enabling the calculation of Fv/Fm and many other photosynthetic parameters.

Plant Ditech Array

Coming soon! A 40-unit, chamber-based, system that will provide real-time plant physiological data. This system will accommodate larger pots and plants than the Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping facility, providing a flexible complement to our existing system. 


Danforth Center scientists developed PlantCV, an open-source image-processing platform used to analyze the massive data sets generated in a typical experiment.

Additional Equipment

Facility Fees

The Phenotyping Facility offers competitive pricing for commercial and academic clients, with additional discounts for small businesses. For current pricing, please contact Ivan Baxter, Interim Director of the Plant Phenotyping Facility.

Meet the Team

Ivan Baxter

Interim Director

Leonardo Chavez

Phenotyping Specialist

Joseph Duenwald

Phenotyping Technician

Contact Us




Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
The Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility
975 North Warson Road
St. Louis, MO 63132