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Inauguration of Plant Phenomics National Facility at ICAR-IIHR

BANGALURU: Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, inaugurated the high throughput Plant Phenomics facility at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Hessaraghatta, Bengaluru, on 1st November 2015 in the presence of Dr. N K. Krishna Kumar, Deputy Director General (Horticultural Science) and Dr. A. K.Sikka, Deputy Director General (Natural Resource Management) ICAR, New Delhi, Dr. M. Anandaraj, Director, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, Ch. Srinivasa Rao, Director, CRIDA, Hyderabad, Dr. M. Maheshwari, National PI, NICRA, ICAR-CRIDA, Hyderabad, Directors of ICAR Institutes located in Bengaluru and other dignitaries. Dr. R. M. Bhatt, PI, NICRA, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, welcomed the dignitaries. This advanced facility supports the research activities involved in non-destructive identification of tolerant genotypes under the adaptation strategies to manage climate change impacts on horticultural crops.

The Phenomics facility enables the non-invasive and non-destructive digital imaging and dynamic monitoring of the crop genotypes under challenging environmental conditions. The facility has the imaging unit consisting of visual, near infra-red and infra-red cameras to capture images of the plants subjected to abiotic stresses like limited and excess moisture stresses and high temperature during various stages of plant growth.  The conveyor system of the facility enables the movement of carts carrying plants to the imaging unit and back to the appended climate controlled greenhouses. The facility also has the automated weighing and watering stations in the two appended greenhouses to apply the targeted amount of water and attain various water stress regimes for studying the effects of limited and excess moisture stresses. The final output from the visible images helps the researchers to quantify various growth and physiological traits like leaf area, biomass, plant height /width, chlorophyll content, growth rates etc. Infrared images assist in identifying temperature differences in a plant canopy, between genotypes and at different stages after stress imposition. Near infrared images, help to quantify the water content and distribution within a plant at various stages of plant growth. 

Inaugurating the facility, Dr. S. Ayyappan, highlighted the importance of such State-Of-The-Art facilities for addressing the climate change issues. He emphasized the need for high throughput plant phenotyping research approaches for identifying crop genotypes tolerant to adverse impacts of abiotic stresses under climate change scenario. He also mentioned that the Plant Phenomics Facility at ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, is a national facility to cater to the phenotying needs of all the horticulture crops.

Dr. N. K. Krishna Kumar, Deputy-Director General (Horticultural Science) emphasized the importance of the Phenomics facility for phenotyping of horticultural crops for excess and limited moisture and high temperature stresses. Dr. A.K. Sikka, Deputy-Director General (Natural Resource Management), in his remarks emphasized the need to extend the utility of Phenomics facility to the partner Institutes under NICRA and other Institutes working on horticulture crops. Dr. Ch. Srinivasa Rao, Director, ICAR-CRIDA, Hyderabad, also highlighted the importance of Phenomics facility under NICRA project for identifying the tolerant genotypes. Dr. M. Anandraj, Director, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, while thanking the dignitaries assured that the Phenomics facility would be put to effective use to deliver the expected output under the NICRA project.

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