A plant's appearance – its phenotype – can yield information about how plants are influenced by environmental factors and genetics. Decoding the plant development underlying observed phenotypes is essential for conservation efforts, but phenotype analysis is not a simple science. To address this challenge, the EU-funded PHIDIAS (PHIDIAS: Phenotyping with a high-throughput, intelligent, distributed, and interactive analysis system) initiative aimed to develop software and hardware imaging systems as well as an interactive user-driven data processing system to which researchers from anywhere in the world may contribute. For data collection, PHIDIAS developed sensing methods that used open-source software and readily available commercial camera technology. This allowed for an affordable image capture system capable of producing the high-resolution composite images required for phenotype studies. Researchers have uploaded and annotated hundreds of images from plant phenotype laboratories, which will help the system to recognise specific phenotypic features. Another aspect of the project focused on ways to compress image files to more manageable sizes. Coupled with low-cost equipment and open-source software, this means that the PHIDIAS system will be widely useable and easy to customise. PHIDIAS solutions will allow researchers globally to contribute to an evolving international database and to access sophisticated analytical tools. Further, they will enable scientists in regions with financial and technological limitations to participate in this global effort.
Phenotype database, plant, plant scientists, PHIDIAS, sensing, open-source software