Review: Plant phenomics, from sensors to knowledge

Tardieu et al. have written a comprehensive and very readable overview of the current state and future challenges of plant phenomics, which they define as “the development and application of the suite of tools and methods used for three major goals — (1) capturing information on structure, function and performance of large numbers of plants, together with their environment; (2) analysing, organizing and storing the resulting datasets; and (3) developing models able to disentangle and simulate plant behaviour in a range of scenarios.”  They point out that plants’ inherent environmental plasticity makes plant phenomics much more challenging than similar studies in animals, and also that studies that minimize the impacts of environment (e.g., controlled growth conditions) are least relevant for yield predictions. They conclude, “phenomics has reached a stage at which the limiting step is the design of methods and approaches allowing one to take into account different temporal and spatial scales and perform meta-analyses for addressing the challenges of plant adaptation to changing environments and underpin secure food security efforts.” Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.055