Microphenotron Service

The Microphenotron is a unique microphenotyping platform for high-throughput screening of natural or synthetic compounds for their effects on plant growth and development. The robotic platform, developed through a collaboration between Lancaster and Nottingham Universities, provides a powerful new tool for agrochemical development by combining specialist robotics, Phytostrips and image analysis software. It is unique in being able to combine high-throughput robotic screening with detailed analysis of the effects of chemical treatments on both root system architecture and shoot development.

 

Stop Press: The Microphenotron is described in detail in a recent Open Access research paper entitled “The Microphenotron: a robotic miniaturized plant phenotyping platform with diverse applications in chemical biology” and automated software developed specifically for analysing the images generated by the robotic platform us described in a companion paper entitled “AutoRoot: open-source software employing a novel image analysis approach to support fully-automated plant phenotyping

 

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General view of the Microphentron

Seedlings are cultivated in agar within our custom-made growth devices (‘Phytostrips’) in 96-well microtitre plates for up to 10 days from germination. The clear-sided Phytostrips allow daily changes in multiple shoot and root traits to be monitored as seedlings respond to chemical treatments. At its maximum capacity the Microphenotron could allow up to 4320 individual assays to be performed simultaneously and imaged daily over a 7 day period, in a growth room footprint of only 2.1 m2.‌ 

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The PhytoStrip: a plant growth device for observing the effects of chemical treatments on plant root development

As well as being available for researchers interested in chemical genetics applications, the Microphenotron is also intended to benefit the biostimulants industry by providing a powerful bioassay system that will aid the development of new biostimulants and in the quality control of existing products. It provides considerable savings compared to conventional glasshouse experiments, but needs to be set-up and run by a specialist post-doctoral researcher.