Principal Investigator Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
The Topp Lab takes an integrated phenomics approach to uncovering the genetic and molecular basis of complex plant architectures, both above- and below-ground. This talk will highlight our multi-scale structural-functional phenotyping capacity including: X-ray microscopy of whole organs and organ primordia at cellular resolution, optical and X-ray CT-based imaging of inflorescences and growing root systems, multi-modal PET-CT data to quantify carbon allocation to roots and nodules in real time, large-scale mesocosms that capture the entire 3D structure of root systems grown unimpeded by the walls of a pot combined with dynamic 4D maps of matric water potential, and high-throughput integrated phenotyping of samples from the field. Undergirding these technologies are computational innovations in image processing and novel feature extractions using machine learning and applied mathematics. By integrating these efforts with natural variation and genomics, we focus on the development of new crop varieties with root systems and other traits tailored to the local environment that enhance drought tolerance, efficient nutrient uptake, and soil health.