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German Plant Phenotyping Network (DPPN) Launched

BMBF funds national infrastructure for analysing plant properties

Jülich, Gatersleben, Munich, 23 January 2013 – Thomas Rachel, secretary of state of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), visited the research center Jülich to address funding of about € 35 million on occasion of the launch of the German Plant Phenotyping Network (DPPN).

The DPPN is a collaboration of the Research Center Jülich that is coordinating the network, the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben and Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU). “The main target of the network is to foster the development of basically non-invasive new technologies to be applied for plant research and breeding,” said Prof. Achim Bachem, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Research Center Jülich. “Within the five-year funding period, we will intensify and optimize the cooperation of the networking institutions and to implement associated research infrastructures.”

“Due to the federal government, progress in plant and agricultural research is crucial for solving some grand challenges of the future: in order to guarantee the sufficient food supply for the world’s fastgrowing population, we will need higher crop yields and plants which are optimized for higher resistance to environmental stresses. There is no doubt that the cooperation between Jülich and its partners in the DPPN will give a large impact in order to face these challenges,” said Thomas Rachel.

The phenotype of a plant (i.e. the plant we actually see and what we use – in contrast to the genotype, which is the heritable toolbox of the plant) is the result of the interaction between the genetic potential and the impact of environmental factors to which it is and was exposed. DPPN intends to collect quantitative information on the structural and physiological properties of plants and to apply this for basic plant research and plant breeding. For this purpose, new and better methods to determine, for example, the size and shape of plants, their resistance to stress or the concentration of important metabolites or precursers will be developed. In order to fully address these questions, most of these methods will be “non-invasive” that allow “in-vivo” and quantitative measurements.

DPPN will establish infrastructures to analyse plants under defined environmental conditions in the laboratory and in the field. For example, root structures will be investigated by magnetic resonance imaging; growth rates and photosynthesis intensity and/or efficiency of plants will be analysed in automated ways and with robots; water relations of crops will also be determined – all for the general aim “to make plants better”. Together, the three partners complement in their technological expertise and their methodological approaches, as well as in the whole range of relevant research areas involved in plant phenotyping, including also biotic or abiotic stresses, or the analysis of genetic diversity in crop plants.

DPPN is directed by Prof. Ulrich Schurr at the Research Center Jülich (also network-coordinator), by Prof. Jörg Durner at Helmholtz Zentrum and Prof. Thomas Altmann at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Gatersleben . The project will be funded for a five-year-period by the BMBF with a total amount of € 34.6 million to be distributed between the three centres (Research Center Jülich: € 18,35 million, IPK Gatersleben: € 10,1 million and HMGU Munich: € 6,15 million). In addition, the Ministry of Sciences and Economic Affairs of Saxony-Anhalt and the BMBF have earmarked another € 5 million to jointly support the construction of a plant cultivation building as a state-of-the-art research infrastructure at IPK Gatersleben. The DPPN also accounts for the German core of the European Plant Phenotyping Network.

Thomas Rachel, secretary of state of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), visited the research center Jülich to address funding of about € 35 million on occasion of the launch of the German Plant Phenotyping Network (DPPN).Picture from left to right: Prof. Achim Bachem, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Research Center Jülich; Dr. Martin Frauen, Managing Board of the WPI (WIrtschaftsverbund PflanzenInnovation), a plant breeding network of private companies; Prof. Jörg Durner, Helmholtz-Center Munich; Thomas Rachel, Secretary of State of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Prof. Thomas Altmann, IPK Gatersleben, Prof. Ulrich Schurr, Research Center Jülich
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Plant in a greenhouseRoot growth is monitored in so called “Rhizotrones” in which large number of plants can be screened automatically. (picture provided by Research Center Jülich)
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Plant in a GreenhouseOne of the three setups of automatic recording of plant features at the IPK Gatersleben with a capacity to analyse 400-1600 plants in one go. Plants are concuted via conveyer belts into the three chambers at the far end, in which Colour-Fluorescence- and Close-Up Far-Red- Pictures are taken from different perspectives.
Copyright: (c) T. Altmann / http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de

Plants - automatically wateredThe masses of the plants in the front are determined by a digital scale. Refering to mass and particular experimental conditions, plants will be watered automatically via tubes to distinct amounts. Any plant can be identified via labelled pots (with RFID-Chips attached).
Copyright: (c) T. Altmann | www.ipk-gatersleben.de

Maize plant in different presentationsFluorescence-picture of a 58-days old maize plant (zea mais) taken in a plant-phenotyping facility (left). Right: the same picture edited via an a specially developed software for the determination of plant parameters (e.g. length, size, leave-surface) and fluorescence measurement: fluorescence (red) indicates plant sections of high chlorophyll content.
Copyright: (c) Christian Klukas / http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de

More Information:

European Plant Phenotyping Network

Deutsches Pflanzen Phänotypisierungs-Netzwerk

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Information about the DPPN-nodes

Contact:

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Prof. Ulrich Schurr,
Institute for Plant Sciences (IBG-2)
Tel.: 02461 61-3073
u.schurr@fz-juelich.de

IPK Gatersleben

Roland Schnee, Public Relation & Communication
Tel. 039 482 5427
schnee@ipk-gatersleben.de

HMGU

Uta von Rad, Institut für Biochemische Pflanzenpathologie
Tel. 089 3187 4416,
v.rad@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Contact, Corporate Communications:

Annette Stettien, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Tel.: 02461-61 2388
a.stettien@fz-juelich.de

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
in the Helmholtz Association
52425 Jülich
Corporate Communications
Tel: +49 2461 61-4661
Fax: +49 2461 61-4666

info@fz-juelich.de
www.fz-juelich.de

Research Center Jülich pursues cutting-edge interdisciplinary research addressing urgent and important issues facing society today and in future, currently most important for energy supply. With its competence in material-science and simulation and its expertise in physics, nanotechnology and information technology, as well as in biosciences and brain research, Jülich has significant impact on developments for the key technologies of tomorrow. The Research Center Jülich contributes to solving the grand challenges in the fields of energy and the environment, health, and information technology.

Forschungszentrum Jülich is also taking new directions in order to facilitate and implement strategic partnerships with universities, research institutions and industry in Germany and abroad. With almost 5000 employees, Jülich – as member of the Helmholtz Association – is one of the large interdisciplinary research centres in Europe.


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