Phenovator II – Arabidopsis phenotyping in Klima growth room

The Laboratory of Genetics and the Laboratory of Biophysics have recently purchased the Phenovator II. Photon Systems Instruments (PSI) from Czech Republic. PSI has integrated their PlantScreenTM system in an XY-system inside the existing growth room B8 in the Klima building on the Wageningen Campus. The Phenovator II is a state-of-the-art phenotyping tool able to measure a broad range of photosynthetic parameters for up to 1440 plants with a maximum diameter of 6 cm. It has been installed, tested and validated end of last year. Now the first experiments on Arabidopsis thaliana are running to explore the photosynthetic performance in more detail.

The Phenovator II was obtained with financial support of Shared Research Facilities (SRF). Shared Research Facilities focusses on providing access to advanced analysis equipment available at Wageningen University & Research. Up-to-date information on the shared facilities of WUR can be found on the Research Equipment & Facilities search engine.


Phenovator II has been built upon the experience gained from the original Phenovator, which was the first high-through-put phenotyping facility able to measure a limited scope of chlorophyll fluorescence-based protocols on > 1000 plants multiple times per day over the course of several weeks. The ability to measure a wider range of fluorescence based protocols with a future-proof platform on a similarly large number of plants removes the biggest bottleneck in our current workflow for determining the genetic mechanisms underlying variability in photosynthesis. For continuation of the fundamental photosynthesis research at WUR on the model Arabidopsis thaliana, the Phenovator II will be essential. PSI is also the supplier of the ‘Robin’ PlantScreenTM machine, with which Wageningen University & Research now has extensive and excellent experience.

Technical details

The modulated chlorophyll fluorescence measuring protocol will allow the measurement of the basic chlorophyll fluorescence yield parameters Fo, Fm, F’, Fm’ and Fo’. From these basic measurements, other more physiologically useful fluorescence-derived parameters will be immediately available as images (ie the data is in a spatially resolved array) from within the protocol, eg dark-adapted Fv/Fm, ΔF/Fm’, qE, Fv’/Fm’, qP,  Φf,D and ΦNPQ. In addition, the Phenovator II will allow researchers to develop novel chlorophyll fluorescence measuring protocols that help answer specific research questions. Next to measuring chlorophyll fluorescence, a 7 position filter wheel allows measurements like GFP and NDVI, the system is also outfitted with a RGB camera.

Link to NPEC

While the first proofs of principle of the genetic approaches to improve plant photosynthesis, and subsequently plant capacity to capture light energy, have been provided, there are still many more photosynthetic traits to explore. The most pressing application of these discoveries will be in improving photosynthesis of crops, for which NPEC has obtained its next level photosynthesis phenotyping equipment in the new greenhouse and its growth chambers, which will be available for experiments later this year.

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