A New View

Phenotype Screening goes underground

Published in the April 2009 Issue Published online: Apr 30, 2009 New Products
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Phenotype Screening Corporation developed a revolutionary new imaging system, using a combination of low-energy X-ray equipment, special low-density planting containers and a synthetic "soil" engineered to enable vivid imaging. Phenotype Screening has opened the door for scientists, researchers, botanists and professors to see and analyze plants in ways that were never before possible.

Prior to Phenotype Screening's root imaging system, called RootViz FS, the only way to view or study what was taking place beneath the ground was to destroy or dramatically alter the plant's root system. The RootViz FS allows for complete surface-to-root-tip imaging and, because it is nondestructive, it has the unique ability to capture images of the same plant at various stages of its developmental growth cycle. Scientists can now visually analyze a plant's response to various stressors and compare that data to the plant&rquot;s pre-stressor root imagery.

In addition to the RootViz FS imaging system Phenotype Screening manufactures and sells, the company also operates a plant growth laboratory where scientists grow plants and gather data for universities and commercial customers under service contracts. A wide range of controlled environmental conditions are offered along with the laboratory's data collection services.

The noninvasive RootViz FS imaging system won an "R & D 100 Award" from the prestigious R & D Magazine when it was first released. The R & D 100 Awards, called the "Oscars of Innovation" by the Chicago Tribune, are only awarded to what the magazine considers the "most technologically significant new products in the world."

Founded by a former engineering director from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a computer software specialist with a PhD in artificial intelligence, Phenotype Screening is widely recognized for enabling unparalleled advances in plant root imaging. The company's work is already credited with improving yields in a wide range of crops, including biomass for alternative fuel production.

Phenotype Screening's nondestructive methods of imaging and analyzing plant root systems enable scientists to develop stronger, more pest and drought resistant crops. The new techniques can also improve production of switchgrass, willows, poplars and other plants used as feedstock in biofuels. The revolutionary process has major implications for food production and greater energy independence through alternative fuel production.

The high-resolution images provided by Phenotype Screening's RootViz FS also provide a window to root environment, phenotype plasticity studies, genetic transformation effects, RNAi impact, functional genomics studies, root/pest interactions, systems biology and plant development modeling.

Phenotype Screening currently works with scientists and researchers from major universities and large corporations and recently expanded into new facilities in Knoxville, Tenn. For more information about Phenotype Screening and its products and services, visit www.phenotypescreening.com.