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Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen


Institute for Grapevine Breeding

Inhalt: Development of automated phenotyping methods

The Digital Vineyard: Colleaugue robot supports the breeders

Up to now, the collection of phenotypic traits on cultivated plants has only been possible to a limited extent, as this is mainly done by personal inspection. At the Institute, we are convinced that breeding efficiency and the objective selection of suitable variety candidates can be significantly increased by the application of new phenotyping methods - sensor-supported, automated, fast and with high precision - and that we can thus better meet the challenges in viticulture.

The phenotype describes the expression of genetic characteristics of a plant under the influence of the given environmental conditions. On the developmental path from a seedling to a new variety, the phenotype is the most important selection criterion in breeding programmes. It can be used to evaluate and select plants for disease resistance, yield, growth, and wine quality over many years. The demands of the breeder and winegrowers on new grape varieties have steadily increased due to climate change, an increasing societal call for sustainability, as well as political framework conditions to protect the environment and health. Our aim is to adapt the developed phenotyping methods to the very high demands of breeding as well as viticultural practice and to transfer them to both, breeding selection and precision viticulture.

Increasing efficiency through digital recording of traits

The concept is to evaluate and establish meaningful sensors to record morphological and physiological traits. At the same time, we would aim at promoting an interdisciplinary network for the development of automated methods to enable robust data acquisition in the field, greenhouse and laboratory. This includes data management as well as efficient data analysis and statistical modelling of sensor data.

This enables us to collect more objective trait data in a precise and target-specific manner and significantly increase the number of plants evaluated. In addition, error variations and gaps in data collections are reduced. Another advantage is that the data can be re-evaluated retrospectively through digital recording. The Institute focuses on the recording of digital traits using phenotyping field platforms (Phenobot, Phenoliner, PhenoQuad) as well as high-throughput phenotyping under controlled greenhouse and laboratory conditions, e.g. analysis of leaf disk assays (downy mildew), 3D grape bunch architecture (yield and Botrytis) or berry surface characteristics (Botrytis).

New opportunities for efficient plant evaluation emerge, which enhance selection and thus increase the efficiency of grapevine breeding by accelerating it for several years.