A telemetric, gravimetric platform for real-time physiological phenotyping of plant–environment interactions

Ahan Dalal, Itamar Shenhar, Ronny Bourstein, Amir Mayo, Yael Grunwald, Nir Averbuch, Ziv Attia, Rony Wallach, Menachem Moshelion*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Food security for the growing global population is a major concern. The data provided by genomic tools far exceeds the supply of phenotypic data, creating a knowledge gap. To meet the challenge of improving crops to feed the growing global population, this gap must be bridged. Physiological traits are considered key functional traits in the context of responsiveness or sensitivity to environmental conditions. Many recently introduced high-throughput (HTP) phenotyping techniques are based on remote sensing or imaging and are capable of directly measuring morphological traits, but measure physiological parameters mainly indirectly. This paper describes a method for direct physiological phenotyping that has several advantages for the functional phenotyping of plant–environment interactions. It helps users overcome the many challenges encountered in the use of load-cell gravimetric systems and pot experiments. The suggested techniques will enable users to distinguish between soil weight, plant weight and soil water content, providing a method for the continuous and simultaneous measurement of dynamic soil, plant and atmosphere conditions, alongside the measurement of key physiological traits. This method allows researchers to closely mimic field stress scenarios while taking into consideration the environment’s effects on the plants’ physiology. This method also minimizes pot effects, which are one of the major problems in pre-field phenotyping. It includes a feed-back fertigation system that enables a truly randomized experimental design at a field-like plant density. This system detects the soil-water-content limiting threshold (θ) and allows for the translation of data into knowledge through the use of a real-time analytic tool and an online statistical resource. This method for the rapid and direct measurement of the physiological responses of multiple plants to a dynamic environment has great potential for use in screening for beneficial traits associated with responses to abiotic stress, in the context of pre-field breeding and crop improvement.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere61280
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number162
StatePublished - Aug 2020

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