• Preparation of a DNA sample in the laboratory
    Digital Phenotyping

Digital phenotyping


In a nutshell

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


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


The challenge this method poses is that the “correct aspect” has to be measured. Only once 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 analyse large quantities of data, which requires broadband data lines to the breeding stations.


The distinction between genotype and phenotype dates back to Wilhelm Johannsen (1911). A genotype is the sum of the properties inherited from the parents. The phenotype of a plant is defined accordingly, but also modified in accordance with 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 environmental conditions present.

Application at KWS

Efficient selection of genotypes in the field and in greenhouses.

Insights into genomes provide breeders with lots of important information about individual plant lines. However, this is by far not sufficient 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 or can hardly be discerned with the naked eye.

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

An overview of our breeding methods

Your contact

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Stephan Krings
Head of Global Marketing and Communications
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