The Virtual Reality Breeding tool

Brings phenotyping and crop innovation to a next level.

As DNA sequences of crops are unraveled at high speed on daily basis genome information is no longer limited in crop improvement processes. Therefore KeyGene invests significantly in phenotyping, the current bottleneck in plant breeding. Digital & robotized phenotyping, big data handling & analysis and visualization of phenotypic data are areas with major challenges and focus of research.

KeyGene was of one the first companies that embarked on high throughput automated and robotized phenotyping in the agricultural area. KeyGene has been using its in house high throughput plant phenotyping systems for more than 5 years. This has resulted in new insights in yield improvement, mechanisms of growth compounds and difficult to measure complex traits such as root development. Next to that, digital phenotypes have been used as predictive markers, for example for late season traits. This research has proven to be highly valuable to bridge the gap towards trait elucidation and crop improvement. With further investments in advanced phenotyping, big data handling and visualization tools KeyGene will be able to further expand its expertise to serve its customers with robust and powerful breeding tools that  meet future demands for higher crop yield and food security.

With respect to visualization of big data and reporting, KeyGene researchers have developed the Virtual Reality Breeding tool. With this tool breeders and researchers are able to see how their plants grew in the greenhouse, select subsets of plants and compare them with previous years and share phenotypic data with colleagues.

Arjen van Tunen, CEO KeyGene: “A single research project within our digital phenotyping facility with for example 900 plants generates a huge amount of data. The 900 plants will be imaged 9 times a day for 7 days a week. That means that after 7 weeks 396.900 digital images have been produced which have to be analyzed and handed over to the customer. This is truly big data! It requires a complete new approach of data handling and reporting. KeyGene’s Virtual Reality Breeding tool is such a new approach.”