Innovative Approaches, Technologies and Resources

In this theme we aim to develop and apply the advanced bio-imaging and genome engineering techniques and tools based at the Norwich Research Park to analyse plant growth at a cellular level and also to analyse the dynamics of plant growth and development in field conditions. We have three objectives;

Establishing Analysis and Visualization Tools (Bevan, Coen, Marée, Sablowski)

Quantitative image analysis of a wheat trial. We will establish standardised analysis and visualisation tools that exploit synergy between existing algorithms and apply this to 3D datasets to demonstrate and measure tool effectiveness and to 4D datasets to produce quantitative information on tissue growth and development.  We will develop pipelines that will be publicly accessible to incorporate these above tools to: i) objectively quantify cell growth and proliferation through measurement of volume and shape through time and space, ii) neutralise individual bias, iii) probe sensitivity and iv) objectively compare methods for specific problems.

Developing and Applying Automated Phenotyping (Griffiths, Penfield)

This objective aims to generate novel image analysis algorithms and high-throughput analysis pipelines to extract quantitative and qualitative phenotypic information from controlled environment studies and field plots of wheat and Brassica. We will identify B. napus alleles conferring enhanced seedling performance, apply plot and field level automated phenotyping devices to Brassica field trials and develop new algorithms to extract bespoke traits from Brassica growth in collaboration with commercial growers.

Establishing and Applying Methods for Efficient Cost Effective Gene Transfer and Genome Editing in Crop Species. (Østergaard, Uauy)

We aim to establish efficient transformation of key wheat varieties such as Cadenza and efficient gene editing using CRISPR/ Cas9 in wheat and B. napus. Emerging, promising genome engineering technologies will be adapted for use in crops at the earliest opportunity. We will develop and maintain wheat and B. napus TILLING populations, enabling their use by the plant research community through SSD populations, and develop a new B. napus TILLING population in a transformable spring variety.