WSU CAHNRS

Washington State University plant phenomics facilities

WSU Plant Phenomics

Our mission is to actively contribute to the global phenomics community by using state-of-the-art phenotyping techniques to advance plant science.

Considering predicted population growth to 9 billion in 2050, and increasing food demand by 70% to meet the need of the expected population (Bita and Gerats, 2013), it is critical to breed and design abiotic and biotic stress resistant crop species to foster sustainable agriculture (Godfray et al., 2010). A more complete understanding of the genetic mechanisms responsible for plant stress responses, combined with emerging technologies (e.g., high-throughput phenomics), offers potential to improve plant performances (Fiorani and Schurr, 2013).

The goal of our research is to unveil the mechanisms controlling plant growth, development, and stress responses. Considering recent adverse environmental changes, increasing food demand, and predicted population growth, we are in urgent need of designing more abiotic and biotic stress resistant crop species. A more complete understanding of the genomic mechanisms responsible for plant stress responses is required to ensure sustainable food resources for society, which is one of Washington State University’s (WSU) grand challenge goals. The high‐throughput phenotyping technologies will accelerate plant research by overcoming the current technical limitations in phenotyping at WSU. High‐content screening can result in an in‐depth understanding of phenotype to genotype relationships. Understanding genome‐phenome relationships accurately and in detail will help scientists unveil molecular mechanisms involved in plant‐environment interactions, for example, genomic‐based prediction of plant performance under multiple stress conditions and a complex genetic architecture of heritable phenotypic traits. Eventually, these discoveries will lead us to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling basic plant functions and identify biochemical pathways that could be explored to produce special products, e.g. certain lipids, secondary plant metabolites and hormones. Lastly, we will identify molecular targets for engineering stress resistance in crop plants. This will not only improve crop yields and quality, but will also reduce chemical applications to control plant growth and plant disease. This, in turn, will reduce both environmental pollution and food production costs, thereby yielding significant economic, environmental and social benefits.

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