Two Heads are Better than One: Strengthen the Belgian Plant Phenotyping community
For a small European country as Belgium, it has a lot of plant phenotyping research, scientists and facilities. The plant phenotyping installations in Belgium are very diverse. Some are focused on in-field crop phenotyping using remote sensing technology, like drones, or use ground-based crop phenotyping installations. Others have fully automated high-throughput shoot analysis platforms in controlled conditions, or focusing on root phenotyping with hydroponics and rhizotrones. There are research groups that preform low throughput/deep phenotyping on cellular level and groups that investigate pre-& postharvesting of plant organs, like fruits and vegies. But also automated systems to test plant response to pathogens and modelling virtual experiments, crop performance, rootmodelling and ideotyping we can add to the list of plant phenotyping activities in Belgium.
The BPPN aims to increase visibility and impact of plant phenotyping in Belgium, function as a channel for sharing information, provide support for collaborative projects, organize networking activities, facilitate plant phenotyping training and last but not least link the BPPN to Plant Phenotyping community in Europe though EMPHASIS.
With the mindset of "two heads are better than One" Belgian scientists of academia and industry involved in plant phenotyping came together to discuss the formation of a Belgian Plant Phenotyping Network (BPPN) in the first official BPPN meeting on the 12th of October. Plant researchers from University of Gent, Antwerp, Leuven, Louvain-La-Neuve, Liege, Brussels but also plant scientist of Belgian institutes as VIB, ILVO, CRA-W, PCFruit and VITO expressed their interest in such kind of network. Together they decided to form an all-inclusive network where all whom is involved in plant phenotyping in general, in Belgium, can be a member. Thereby they forming a multidisciplinary network of plant biologists, imaging experts, breeders, modellers and technology developers.
Next steps? The BPPN would like to be more formalized and are now in the process of writing a Memorandum of Understanding (i.e representing a ‘written handshake’), want to set up a website and will organize more networking activities in the future. The BPPN actively supports the EMPHASIS-prep project and has the intention to function as a national node for EMPHASIS in the future.