Feeding the world, one crop at a time

Currently global grain production is only just meeting demand. With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, cereal grain production must almost double to meet projected global food demand. New thinking is needed to ensure we have the ability to feed future generations.

How does the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility help?

Plant phenomics is a science that has the power to transform our lives. By exploring how the genetic makeup of an organism determines its appearance, function and performance, phenomics can help us tackle the most pressing challenges of our time – including global food shortages, the demand for alternative fuels, and climate change.

Meeting the food challenge head-on, the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF), supported by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), is a uniquely Australian plant research facility, complete with state-of-the-art imaging, robotic and computing equipment.

Research at the APPF is leading to the development of new and improved crops, healthier food, more sustainable agricultural practices, improved maintenance and regeneration of biodiversity and the use of crops to develop pharmaceuticals.

Results

The two inter-dependent nodes of the APPF are the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (HRPPC) at the CSIRO and the Australian National University in Canberra; and The Plant Accelerator® at the University of Adelaide. The existence of the APPF means that new technologies adapted for improving phenomics measurements in the HRPPC can be applied for the high throughput screening — a method for scientific experimentation especially used in drug discovery and relevant to the fields of biology and chemistry — in The Plant Accelerator®.

The data captured will enable more rapid discovery of molecular markers and faster germplasm development — a collection of genetic resources for an organism — aimed at improving crop yields by improving the tolerance of major crops and other agriculturally important plants to biotic and abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity and a broad spectrum of plant diseases. 

“The APPF technology is unparalleled anywhere in the world and by bringing this phenotyping technology to IRRI’s genomics assisted breeding efforts, we are confident we can make some major breakthroughs”
Dr Robert Coe, Research Scientist, International Rice Research Institute

Did you know? 

  • The APPF was established in 2008 through funding from NCRIS and associated initiatives and is led by the University of Adelaide. 
  • Other participants are CSIRO Plant Industry (High Resolution Plant Phenomics Facility), the Australian National University (High Resolution Plant Phenomics Facility), the South Australian State Government and the ACT Government. 
  • The aims of APPF include: 
    • enhanced assessment of plant traits through improved infrastructure
    • addressing the impacts of climate change on crops in controlled environments and in the field
    • provision of access for Australian plant researchers and breeders to a world leading facility that provides a pipeline for the development of new plant lines from single plant pot-based studies to specialised field investigations
    • development of bioinformatics infrastructure to utilise the data generated in the facility 
    • establishment of infrastructure in the form of data streams that are freely available to the plant research community. 

The Australian Government is proud to provide funding for APPF’s important work through NCRIS.

You can find out more about APPF and about other NCRIS initiatives on their websites.