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.
Prof. Ulrich Schurr,
Institute for Plant Sciences (IBG-2)
Tel.: 02461 61-3073
Roland Schnee, Public Relation & Communication
Tel. 039 482 5427
Uta von Rad, Institut für Biochemische Pflanzenpathologie
Tel. 089 3187 4416,
Contact, Corporate Communications:
Annette Stettien, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Tel.: 02461-61 2388
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
in the Helmholtz Association
Tel: +49 2461 61-4661
Fax: +49 2461 61-4666
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.