A Versatile Phenotyping System and Analytics Platform Reveals Diverse Temporal Responses to Water Availability in Setaria

Molecular Plant
Noah FahlgrenIvan Baxter


Phenotyping has become the rate-limiting step in using large-scale genomic data to understand and improve agricultural crops. Here, the Bellwether Phenotyping Platform for controlled-environment plant growth and automated multimodal phenotyping is described. The system has capacity for 1140 plants, which pass daily through stations to record fluorescence, near-infrared, and visible images. Plant Computer Vision (PlantCV) was developed as open-source, hardware platform-independent software for quantitative image analysis. In a 4-week experiment, wild Setaria viridis and domesticated Setaria italica had fundamentally different temporal responses to water availability. While both lines produced similar levels of biomass under limited water conditions, Setaria viridis maintained the same water-use efficiency under water replete conditions, while Setaria italica shifted to less efficient growth. Overall, the Bellwether Phenotyping Platform and PlantCV software detected significant effects of genotype and environment on height, biomass, water-use efficiency, color, plant architecture, and tissue water status traits. All ∼ 79,000 images acquired during the course of the experiment are publicly available.

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