Plant Phenotyping Forum: integrating European plant phenotyping community in Tartu, Estonia (22 - 24 November, 2017)
This forum, organised under the auspices of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, attracted nearly 120 participants to discuss the need to further development of EU-based technologies that can be applied for characterization of plant form and function in shifting climate.
Plant phenotyping – a quantitative analysis of the form and function of plants – has become the major bottleneck in applying recent breakthroughs in basic plant science to field applications. While significant progress has been made in molecular methods in recent years and the genomes of several plants have been sequenced this knowledge does not increase plant performance without knowing the dynamic interactions of the plant with its environment. Thus, quantitative information on genotype-environment relations is essential for addressing future grand challenges.
The Plant Phenotyping Forum was opened by Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General for Higher Education and Research and Andres Koppel, Director General of the Estonian Research Council. They both stressed the need to address food security in a sustainable Europe as one of the themes of the Estonian Presidency. The sustainable food production and bioeconomy was further discussed in a panel discussion with stakeholders from academia, industry, the farming sector talking about the consumer expectations, the role of policy makers and novel technology in agriculture in times of climate change. Panel discussion was opened by the Vice Chancellor of Ministry of Rural Affairs Toomas Kevvai and it formed a nice complemention for scientific presentations with case studies including different and diverse needs of plant phenotyping for the improvement of breeding for plant performance in future climate with crops tolerant to biotic and abiotic stress as well as the increasing importance of analysis, use and reuse of data in this field.
Plant phenotyping is becoming an important topic in Estonia with high quality scientific contributions complementing the European phenotyping landscape. It became obvious that close interaction between different countries and stakeholders is essential to further advance in plant phenotyping in Europe and beyond. A dedicated session introduced the ESFRI listed project EMPHASIS that aims at the development of long-term pan-European plant phenotyping infrastructure. This session concluded a series of European event to learn about the plant phenotyping landscape in different European countries with Estonia, Poland, Germany, Belgium and Ireland being the last of the over 20 countries introduced in EMPHASIS sessions throughout 2017.
The event was organized by EU projects, EPPN2020 providing access to essential plant phenotyping facilities in Europe, CEMCE as a Centre of Excellence in Molecular Cell Engineering.