[2019-10-30] Maria Knutson Wedel, since summer vice-chancellor at SLU, inaugurated yesterday the new tree phenotyping platform at UPSC in the course of her first official visit. This new platform allows to measure automatically and in a highly standardized way tree growth and development parameters and is a very valuable new research tool. It is not just a novelty among UPSC’s research facilities but also unique in Sweden.
The inauguration of the phenotyping platform was the highlight during the first official visit of the new SLU vice-chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel to UPSC. She got first a tour to the metabolomics facility and was then introduced by Ove Nilsson, director of UPSC, to the main research topics and the most important research plants at UPSC. After this, she officially inaugurated the new phenotyping platform.
The building of the phenotyping platform started in autumn 2017. The first test experiments begun in November 2018 and since October 2019, the first official experiment with 364 trees is running on the platform. Up to 728 trees can be monitored in total at the same time. The trees are moving on a conveyer belt and are automatically watered, fertilized, weighed and photographed once a day. This allows to characterize very precisely the tree growth of e.g. genetically modified trees in comparison with unmodified trees or of different natural variants.
The funding for the phenotyping platform came from the project “UPSC Forest Biology and Biotechnology”, that was granted in 2016 with SEK 48 million by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and is led by UPSC’s director Ove Nilsson. This large-scale project aims to identify genes that are key players in the regulation of tree growth and wood development. It is based on data that has already been collected at UPSC over the last 20 years. The long-run goal is to increase wood production while ensuring high wood quality and lowering the need of resources to help forestry to be sustainable.
After a first characterization on the phenotyping platform, trees with interesting characteristics are going to be selected and undergo closer studies including also field trials. Currently the main tree genera characterized with the help of the platform are hybrid aspen and poplar but this might be expanded in the future to eucalyptus, spruce and pine. The services from the phenotyping platform are open to all researchers working at UPSC. A steering committee will review and prioritize suggested projects.
For questions regarding the phenotyping platform, please contact:
Director of the Umeå Plant Science Center (UPSC) and
Professor at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at SLU
Impressions from the visit of SLU's Vice Chancellor Maria Knutson Wedel:
Photos: Anne Honsel