Technology to screen for higher-yielding crop traits now more accessible to scientists
Researchers in the field
University of Illinois Research Technician Evan Dracup (left) and Postdoctoral Researcher Katherine Meacham-Hensold (right) screen entire research plots for high-yielding photosynthesis traits.
Photo by Claire Benjamin/RIPE project
March 16, 2020

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —  Like many industries, big data is driving innovations in agriculture. Scientists seek to analyze thousands of plants to pinpoint genetic tweaks that can boost crop production—historically, a Herculean task. To drive progress toward higher-yielding crops, a team from the University of Illinois is revolutionizing the ability to screen plants for key traits across an entire field. In two recent studies—published in the Journal of Experimental Botany (JExBot) and Plant, Cell & Environment (PC&E)—they are making this technology more accessible.

“For plant scientists, this is a major step forward,” said co-first author Katherine Meacham-Hensold, a postdoctoral researcher at Illinois who led the physiological work on both studies. “Now we can quickly screen thousands of plants to identify the most promising plants to investigate further using another method that provides more in-depth information but requires more time. Sometimes knowing where to look is the biggest challenge, and this research helps address that."

Read more on the RIPE website.