What is ESFRI?
ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, established in 2002 is a strategic instrument to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy making on research infrastructures in Europe and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to better use and development of research infrastructure. The competitive and open access to high quality research infrastructures supports and benchmarks the quality of the activities of European scientists, and attracts researchers from around the world.
One of the key instruments of ESFRI is the regular publication of Roadmaps with projects for the establishment and development of pan–European research infrastructure. The ESFRI Roadmap 2016 identified the new Research Infrastructures (RI) of pan-European interest that correspond to the long-term needs of the European research communities. The RI covers all scientific areas across Europe. Six new RI project were added to the Roadmap and one of the new ESFRI Projects is EMPHASIS.
ESFRI Roadmap: http://www.esfri.eu/roadmap-2016
How was EMPHASIS established?
EMPHASIS results from consistent development of plant phenotyping infrastructure funded by both Member States and the European Commission through the Research Infrastructure programmes. For example, there are national platforms such as Phenome-FPPN (https://www.phenome-fppn.fr/) or DPPN (http://www.dppn.de) with the goal of building phenotyping capacity on national level. A number of these platforms were also available for access for the European plant science community within the FP7 funded EU project EPPN (for more details see: http://www.plant-phenotyping-network.eu/). A number of other FP7 and H2020 projects has been addressing dedicated scientific questions using plant phenotyping infrastructure, e.g. projects within ERA-CAPS.
Research Infrastructure has specific challenges:
- Linking phenotyping development with demands
- Generating flexible instruments to support demands from diverse stakeholders
- Building expensive infrastructure in a coordinated manner to fit the demand across Europe
- Generating interoperability between infrastructures
- Generating access to state-of-the-art infrastructures
- Generating sustainable development and use of infrastructures (incl. running cost and availability) in an increasingly volatile and short-term funding environment
- Generating a framework for a mid-term perspective
In order to address these challenges and to establish the pan-European plant phenotyping community and to develop complementary infrastructure based on the demand of users, as well as enable access to these infrastructure, an EMPHASIS proposal was submitted by the German and French ESFRI delegation. In total 4 participating countries (BE, DE, FR, UK) were involved in initiating the EMPHASIS proposal. Additionally EMPHASIS was also supported by other governments and a large number of institutions and companies. EMPHASIS was approved by the ESFRI forum and is listed now on the ESFRI Roadmap that was published on March 10, 2016.
The next step is the further development of EMPHASIS include the EMPHASIS preparatory phase. The goal of that preparatory phase defined in the EMPHASIS-PREP H2020 project is the establishment of the legal entity and business plan for a long-term operation of EMPHASIS.
What is EMPHASIS-PREP?
EMPHASIS-PREP will be a H2020 funded project that aims to establish the business plan for EMPHASIS. The central aspect is to organise comprehensive communication with all stakeholders including infrastructure providers and technology developers from academia and industry, users from academia and industry, funding agencies and ministries as well as other ESFRI-projects in all relevant aspects to develop a sound business plan and European Plant Phenotyping Infrastructure Strategy for EMPHASIS. The EMPHASIS-PREP consortium has partners from the stakeholder groups relevant to mature the community and develop the business plan. EMPHASIS-PREP consortium - receiving funding through EMPHASIS-PREP project - has been designed to be lean, to efficiently address the work packages in the project.
EMPHASIS-PREP is organized in 6 workpackages:
WP1: Management of the project
WP2: Defining the available infrastructure, structural and financial infrastructure development and, criteria for a sustainable operation of the plant phenotyping infrastructure
WP3: Implementation of the demand of users and the establishment of an effective communication with different stakeholders (research organisations, funding agencies, ministries, users and technology developers, and public)
WP4: Preparation of an integrated information system by establishing a Data Management Plan with relevant criteria to qualify for EMPHASIS.
WP5: Assessment, development, preparation and establishment of the most suitable legal framework and governance for EMPHASIS
WP6: Developing and implementing of a Business Planand European plant phenotyping infrastructure strategyfor implementing sustainable processes and governance of EMPHASIS (WP 6 integrates WP2-5)
The work packages of EMPHASIS PREP:
EMPHASIS-PREP actions will include a wide stakeholder community.
It is essential that EMPHASIS-PREP works closely with the European plant phenotyping community at large to be able to address the goals of the preparatory phase seeking close cooperation with EMPHASIS Support Group (EMPAHSIS-SG).
The EMPHASIS-SG will consist of stakeholders that aim to become full EMPHASIS partners and new EMPHASIS partners will be able to join EMPHASIS-SG during the maturation process of EMPHASIS. The EMPHASIS-SG will play an important part by providing scientific, technical and user advice. EMPHASIS-SG will be directly involved in many EMPHASIS-PREP activities and continuously informed about the results of the project (newsletters, online discussion forum and annual EMPHASIS partner meeting)
The consortium running the EMPHASIS-PREP project from a financial point-of-view is much smaller than the EMPHASIS partnership. Thus, all consortium partners of EMPHASIS-PREP have signed the “EMPHASIS Manifesto”, in which they commit themselves to work towards and for the entire EMPHASIS partners.
EMPHASIS-PREP is an open and inclusive project and the partners are committed to follow the goals and procedures:
EMPHASIS-PREP will provide the basis for the establishment of the sustainable and innovative pan-European infrastructure for plant phenotyping, EMPHASIS, European Infrastructure for Multi-Scale Plant Phenotyping And Simulation for Food Security in a Changing Climate.
EMPHASIS-PREP will do this by establishing a transparent, open and inclusive process with the goal to provide the foundation of future operation of EMPHASIS by establishing a legal basis and a business plan. According to this policy and to achieve these goals, EPMPHASIS-PREP members will manage and coordinate the legal, financial and technical tasks defined in the Work Packages by including the diverse plant phenotyping expertise and community in Europe in close cooperation with the EMPHASIS-Support Group (EMPHASIS-SG).
The EMPHASIS-SG consists of representatives of communities in plant phenotyping in member states interested in EMPHASIS.Country representatives inform and include their national plant phenotyping community in the process to design and set-up EMPHASIS. In that context, EMPHASIS-SG plays an essential role to address the national AND European Plant Phenotyping community at large.
The role of the EMPHASIS-PREP partners is to manage and coordinate the processes leading to a legal framework and a business plan in cooperation with EMPHASIS-SG. The EMPHASIS-PREP partners are committed to the development of a pan-European community for plant phenotyping beyond their national interest. They are committed to include expert knowledge in the respective processes and tasks in EMPHASIS-PREP from and beyond their own countries for the purpose of getting the best and widest coverage of expertise that is for the benefit of the establishment of EMPHASIS as a pan-European research infrastructure
EMPHASIS-PREP´s targets are not predominantly scientific results, but facilitating EMPHASIS as a European infrastructure. This management and coordination tasks include four major steps: i) mapping (infrastructure, funders, access procedure and models, stakeholder community, e-infrastructure, imaging approaches, legal and governance scenarios); ii) analyzing the gaps and limitations based on the mapping activities; iii) developing strategies to address the gaps; iv) combining the strategies in a business plan for future operation of EMPHASIS within a corresponding legal framework.
The role of the Work Package and Task leaders is defined as such:
- Work Package Leaders are responsible for the management, coordination and proper completion of the WP, they manage the activities by collecting and inspecting the deliverables for completeness.
- Task Leader are in charge of developing the science management objective that are the deliverables required to develop a complete business plan for EMPHASIS and a European strategic roadmap for plant phenotyping infrastructure.
WP and task leaders use the allocated resources to manage and coordinate the EMPHASIS-PREP tasks in agreement with the open, transparent and inclusive policy of EMPHASIS.
What is the infrastructure in EMPHASIS?
EMPHASIS will host all necessary infrastructure for state-of-the-art phenotyping.Details are subject to further elaboration during EMPHASIS-PREP:
- Controlled conditions: Phenotyping platforms in (semi-) controlled conditions for high resolution and high throughput phenotyping.
These phenotyping platforms allow investigation of the genetic variability of measured plant traits as a response to well-defined environmental (biotic and abiotic) conditions. Such platforms use non-invasive technology for structural and functional properties such as shoot and root architecture, biomass and growth rates, photosynthesis, nutrient relations etc. and can functionally analyse hundreds/thousands of plants exposed to different and well-defined environmental conditions with varying water, nutrient or CO2 availability.
- Intensive field: Smart/ Intensive field experimental sites for high throughput phenotyping
Field infrastructures that allows investigation of plant traits in canopies under natural environmental conditions exposed to treatments such as rising CO2 (FACE facilities), drought (rain-out shelters), flooding or limited nutrient availability. These platforms involve extensive and high-resolution recording of the environmental conditions (including abiotic and biotic) and detailed imaging carried by proximal or remote sensing systems.
- Lean field: Translational, coordinated network of field experiments with lean, efficient phenotyping close to practical breeding setups
Field experiments in distributed sites following environmental gradients (e.g. north-south, oceanic – continental) will allow prediction of plant performance in current and future climatic scenarios, and establishment of the link between their performance and underlying traits at the stand level. These platforms allow testing a large number of genotypes in a wide range of conditions that cannot be covered by intensive field facilities, but with a precise and efficient recording of environmental conditions.
- Modelling: Modelling platforms for testing existing or virtual combinations of alleles in a variety of climatic scenarios and management practices.
The modelling platform can include different categories for models (structural-functional models, crop models etc.) e.g. to have a portfolio of model for (a) disentangling of complex phenotypes to extract relevant variables, (b) allowing joint genetic analysis of complex dataset originating from several platforms and (c) allowing crop simulation to analyse traits/alleles that are favourable for a specific climatic scenario
An essential element of distributed infrastructures is the interconnection between different nodes/ installations. E-Infrastructure needs to be integrated to manage, share, reuse and visualize high throughput plant phenotyping data stemming from different types of platforms.
What access modes can EMPHASIS enable?
There are different ways to use phenotyping infrastructure that can address a wide range of different aspects summarized in the table. Details are subject to further elaboration during EMPHASIS-PREP:
How can EMPHASIS be organized?
EMPHASIS will be established as a distributed European RI with a “Hub and national Nodes” structure with different roles that will be elaborated in detail in the preparatory phase.
An essential part of the hub and note interaction is the development of national platforms represented by a centre heading the national phenotyping activities within a country. This centre interacts with the hub and informs the national community. The national platform should establish and follow rules that organize the national platform. As national platform in this context means that a national representative of a country represents the country, organizes, and informs the stakeholders within a country in an open and inclusive way.
The table illuminates some examples how the hub - node interaction would address different topics.