What is eco-phenotyping?
All the plants observable characteristics or traits are called the phenotype. This phenotype is determined by the plants genetic makeup - the genotype - and the biotic and abiotic environmental conditions the plant is exposed to.
At NPEC we refer to plant phenotyping as a set of methodologies and protocols that are used to measure plant growth, architecture, and composition. Measurements at NPEC are of a high level of accuracy and precision, with an eye for the different scales of organization of the plant.
In recent years the effect of biological interactions on plant phenotype has become increasingly apparent. For this reason we include an ecological perspective in plant phenotyping: Eco-phenotyping. The influence of interaction with (neighboring) plants, microbes and other organisms will be tracked, thereby providing a much more realistic perspective on the effect of biotic interactions on the plant phenotype.
NPEC will provide specialized facilities to study the role of the plant microbiome; the bacterial and fungal populations that colonize plants both above- and belowground. This form of eco-phenotyping will be performed in the Ecotrons where interactions between the plant and the microbiome can be analysed in a high throughput and controlled fashion.