• Preparation of a DNA sample in the laboratory
    Digital phenotyping

Digital phenotyping


In short

The properties of a breeding plant in the field are reviewed. We do this by using modern technology for automated analysis.


This method is non-invasive and does not affect plant development. Digital phenotyping, for example, allows us to draw conclusions about infestations with fungi.


The challenge this method poses is that the “specific property” has to be measured. Only when we know which genetic mechanism causes a specific change in the appearance of plants can we develop automatic recognition through sensors. We must also be able to quickly analyze large quantities of data, which requires the availability of broadband data to our breeding stations.


The distinction between genotype and phenotype dates back to Wilhelm Johannsen (1911). A genotype is the sum of the properties inherited from parents. The phenotype of a plant is defined accordingly, but also modified due to environmental conditions. We propose that: A genotype is the sum of all genetic characteristics of an organism, such as a plant. The phenotype of this plant is created as it grows under the current environmental conditions.

Application at KWS

Efficient selection of genotypes in the field and in greenhouses.

Insight into genomics provides breeders with a lot of important information about individual plant lines. However, this is not nearly enough information to make breeding decisions. The properties of a line have always had to be examined in the field too. This requires a lot of breeding experience and time. In addition, there are features that cannot easily be detected by the naked eye.

Modern technology can help us do all this and, at the same time, can provide us with additional information. This is why KWS works diligently on the development of new methods to automatically record certain plant characteristics. Images are taken of the fields and plots, for example, from both the ground and the air. They can be analyzed by a computer to draw conclusions about characteristics such as height and potential disease outbreak. This requires close collaboration with IT specialists and experienced breeders.