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Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering

Front. Agr. Sci. Eng.    2015, Vol. 2 Issue (1) : 28-37
Advances in crop phenotyping and multi-environment trials
Zhe LIU,Fan ZHANG,Qin MA,Dong AN,Lin LI,Xiaodong ZHANG,Dehai ZHU,Shaoming LI()
College of Information and Electrical Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
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Efficient evaluation of crop phenotypes is a prerequisite for breeding, cultivar adoption, genomics and phenomics study. Plant genotyping is developing rapidly through the use of high-throughput sequencing techniques, while plant phenotyping has lagged far behind and it has become the rate-limiting factor in genetics, large-scale breeding and development of new cultivars. In this paper, we consider crop phenotyping technology under three categories. The first is high-throughput phenotyping techniques in controlled environments such as greenhouses or specifically designed platforms. The second is a phenotypic strengthening test in semi-controlled environments, especially for traits that are difficult to be tested in multi-environment trials (MET), such as lodging, drought and disease resistance. The third is MET in uncontrolled environments, in which crop plants are managed according to farmer’s cultural practices. Research and application of these phenotyping techniques are reviewed and methods for MET improvement proposed.

Keywords crop breeding      genotyping      phenotyping      genotype-environment interaction      cultivar regional test     
Corresponding Authors: Shaoming LI   
Just Accepted Date: 22 April 2015   Online First Date: 12 May 2015    Issue Date: 22 May 2015
 Cite this article:   
Zhe LIU,Fan ZHANG,Qin MA, et al. Advances in crop phenotyping and multi-environment trials[J]. Front. Agr. Sci. Eng. , 2015, 2(1): 28-37.
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Qin MA
Dong AN
Lin LI
Xiaodong ZHANG
Dehai ZHU
Shaoming LI
Fig.1  LemnaTec platform of automated greenhouse plant phenomics[24]
Fig.2  Corn ear test system developed by China Agricultural University
Fig.3  Puerto Rico drip irrigation and breeding system of Spectrum Seed[19]
Fig.4  DuPont Pioneer’s large mobile artificial wind tunnel[22]
Stages Before 1980 1980–2000 After 2000
Main characteristics Accurate yield estimation Accurate stress-resistance evaluation Field presentation prediction
Test purposes Select high-yield cultivars Select high-yield and widely adaptive cultivars Predict the performance of cultivar in the target promotional environment (TPE)
Test means Field test, manual harvesting Field test, little natural stress environment, manually and by machinery Field test, natural and artificial stress environment, by machinery, molecular detection
Field testing key points Accuracy of repetitions in each test station Accuracy of repetitions and precision of multi environments are equally important Precision of multi environments
Field testing systems Primary test, several rounds of advanced tests, cultivar promotion test Primary test, advanced test, strip test Advanced test, strip test
Selection of testing sites A dozen testing sites, high-yield environment Dozens of testing sites represent the main environmental types, including low yield and stress environment Hundreds of testing sites represent all the environmental types
Plot designs Latin square, multiple repetition, low density, large area Randomized block, 2–3 repetitions, medium density, medium area Interval arrangement, no repetition, high density, small area
Error controls Costly, abandonment of abnormal values Medium cost, and summary of revised abnormal values Costs less, direct summary of abnormal values
Data analysis Variance analysis, significance test, no across-year comparison, great importance attached to the analysis in each test station Pair comparison, t test and stability analysis, more attention paid to across-year, multi-environment, across-system data integration analysis, as well as to gene-environment interactions (GEI) Comparison of multiple references, performance prediction based on across-year, multi-environment and across-system data, utilize GEI
Data management tools Calculator Mainframe computers, databases, statistical software Micro-computers, databases, special software
Data presentations Professional statistical reports Structured reports, using special font and symbol, statistical diagram Visualized analysis software, brief reports
Decision-making groups Breeders Breeders, senior management Breeders, senior management, farmers
Presentation of cultivars Narrow TPEs and long economic life Medium TPEs, stress resistance, medium economic life Wide TPEs, stress resistance, suitability for users, short economic life
Tab.1  Development history of MET in the United States
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