Plant research at the University of Adelaide will benefit from a $2.6 million research infrastructure investment announced at Waite on May 15.
The grant was announced under the Federal Government’s new $1.9 billion Research Infrastructure Investment Plan Facilities for the Future: Underpinning Australia’s Research and Innovation.
The $2.6 million will go to the national Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF), led by the University of Adelaide and including The Plant Accelerator.
“This investment is great news and will allow us to update infrastructure and equipment, and introduce new technologies for the development of new and improved crops, healthier food, more sustainable agricultural practices and improved maintenance and regeneration of biodiversity,” says Professor Julie Owens, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Strategy at the University of Adelaide.
“Plant research is an extremely fast-paced environment, and we need investment to continue to ensure we stay at the cutting edge of research, particularly as we face an environment with declining arable land and climate challenges.”
The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, including the University’s Plant Accelerator, is a network of national research infrastructure platforms that offers researchers access to state-of-the-art plant phenomics technologies, tools and expertise not available at this scale or breadth in the public sector anywhere else in the world. The APPF is a partnership between the University of Adelaide, CSIRO and the Australian National University.
Capabilities include phenotyping (measuring the physical characteristics); plant growth environments; controlled environment rooms; gravimetric platforms; data visualisation; drone technology; imaging; precision measurement; lighting systems; sensors; and laboratory instruments.
The Research Infrastructure Investment Plan was announced by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham and Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash at The Plant Accelerator, based at the Waite campus. They also toured the Australian Wine Research Institute, which houses and operates the South Australian node for Metabolomics Australia. The SA Metabolomics Facility is part of Bioplatforms Australia which will also receive $48.1 million funding over the next five years under the new Investment Plan.
The Plant Accelerator contains large greenhouses, called Smarthouses, fitted with high through-put, fully automated conveyor systems, watering and digital imaging chambers for the non-destructive phenotyping of plants. This system consists of over 1km of conveyors with a total capacity of up to 2,400 plants in radio-tagged carts, driven by high capacity computing equipment.
The University of Adelaide is also involved in other National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NICRIS) facilities which will receive funding under the new Investment Plan.
They are: ATLAS of Living Australia ($2.1 million); AuScope ($1.5 million); Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility ($14.4 million); Australian National Fabrication Facility (OptoFab Node) ($36.2 million); Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network ($7.4 million); National Computational Infrastructure ($6.3 million); and the Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) ($5.1 million).
Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham and Member for Boothby Nicolle Flint announcing the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan at Waite.
AWRI Managing Director Dr Dan Johnson shows Senators Cash and Birmingham around the Waite Metabolomics facilities
Dr Bettina Berger explains the Smarthouse facilities at the Plant Accelerator to Senator Birmingham, Nicolle Flint, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and Senator Cash