Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
Plant Scientists have gained vast knowledge about the genetics of various crop species during recent years. It has become increasingly easier and cheaper to sequence and map genomes, giving scientists access to information unimaginable just a few decades ago. However, a bottleneck has developed in capitalising on this information.
The APPF has been developed to relieve the 'phenotyping bottleneck' which has, until now, limited our ability to capitalise on substantial government and industry investments already made in plant functional genomics and modern breeding technologies.
The APPF is a national facility, available to all Australian plant scientists, offering access to infrastructure that is not available at this scale or breadth in the public sectors anywhere else in the world. The APPF is based around automated image analysis of the phenotypic characteristics of extensive germplasm collections and large breeding, mapping and mutant populations. It exploits recent advances in robotics, imaging and computing to enable sensitive, high throughput analyses to be made of plant growth and function. New technologies are being developed to ensure that the APPF remains at the international forefront of plant science. Research networks and established pathways to market ensure outcomes are delivered for the long-term benefit for Australian scientists and primary producers.
The APPF provides:
With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, cereal grain production must double to meet projected global food demand. Currently global grain production is only just meeting consumption and a transformational advance in yield is required. The global issues are even more pertinent to Australia which faces long periods of drought and increasing salinity undermining farm productivity.
Research at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility is leading to the development of new and improved crops, healthier food, more sustainable agricultural practices, improved maintenance and regeneration of biodiversity and the use of crops to develop pharmaceuticals in the face of declining arable land area and the challenges of climate change.
Plant phenomics is a science that has the power to transform our lives. By exploring how the genetic makeup of an organism determines its appearance, function and performance, phenomics can help us tackle the most pressing challenges of our time – including global food shortages, the demand for alternative fuels, and climate change.
Phenomics data captured at the APPF enables the more rapid discovery of molecular markers and faster germplasm development, aimed at improving crop yields including the tolerance of major crops and other agriculturally important plants to biotic and abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity and a broad spectrum of plant diseases; putting the APPF at the forefront of the race to meet global food demands in the future.
Substantial government and industry investments in recent years have enabled Australia to make numerous advances in plant genomics and modern breeding technologies, but science had hit a bottleneck in its ability to understand and relate the performance of plant species and commercial varieties (the plant phenome) to their genetic make-up.
In 2007, the Australian Government, the ACT Government and the Government of South Australia joined forces with the University of Adelaide, CSIRO Agriculture and Food and the Australian National University to invest in and drive the establishment of Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF). The two nodes of the APPF are strategically located on the campuses of three renowned plant research organisations in Australia to benefit from a world class concentration of expertise in plant and soil science.
The $51M investment was a firm statement underlining a commitment to agricultural R&D in Australia and an acknowledgement of the need for a world-class plant research facility that would provide Australian scientists with a competitive advantage, drive cross-disciplinary research and international collaboration and contribute to bridging public research and agricultural business.
The July 2009 opening of the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (HRPPC) in Canberra was followed by the official opening of The Plant Accelerator in Adelaide in January 2010. The two nodes of the APPF provide state-of-the-art plant phenotyping infrastructure and expertise to Australian and international publicly funded researchers and to commercial organisations enabling them to address and accelerate their research objectives.
We have attracted a superb cross-disciplinary team of experts who have commissioned and now efficiently operate this world-leading facility, whilst continuing to enhance our plant phenomics capabilities. We have developed effective business structures and processes to enable the efficient operation of the APPF and to deliver maximum user benefit.
Furthermore, the APPF team has established strong linkages to research and commercial organisations around the world as well as the European and International Plant Phenomics Networks. In our relatively short time of operation, we have facilitated numerous pilot and large scale plant phenomics experiments for renowned scientists from various Australian and international research organisations and industry, confirming Australia as a world leading plant phenomics hub.
The University of Adelaide
Last Modified 30/03/2017 Helli Meinecke
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