Australian Plant Phenomics Network

LOCATION: The Plant Accelerator, Hartley Grove, Waite Campus, Urrbrae

Who We Are

The Australian Plant Phenomics Network (APPN) is a national research facility funded by the Commonwealth National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). The APPF is comprised of three nodes; The Plant Accelerator® (TPA) at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus and nodes located at CSIRO and the Australian National University in Canberra.

About The Plant Accelerator

The Plant Accelerator® (TPA) is located the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus. The world leading, open-access plant growth and analysis facility is fitted with high quality plant growth environments and state-of-the-art high-throughput imaging and data analysis technology, enabling plant scientists and breeders to accelerate the development of improved crops and agricultural practices.

Unique in both scale and infrastructure, the facility attracts researchers and industry users from across Australia and around the world. Research projects facilitated by the TPA vary from large scale screening of early growth, salinity tolerance, drought and heat stress, to nutrient and water use efficiency. The range of experiments that can be supported are diverse with respect to the measured traits and plant species studied. More here.

Controlled Environment Phenotyping

The TPA contains four Smarthouses, fitted with conveyor systems and imaging stations (LemnaTec Scanalyzer 3D) for the non-destructive, high-throughput phenotyping of plants. This system consists of over 1km of conveyors with a total capacity of up to 2,400 plants per day with RGB, fluorescence and hyperspectral imaging.

The drought and heat phenotyping platform, the Droughtspotter, is a unique capability consisting of two controlled environment rooms specially fitted with variable wavelength LED lighting and fully automated gravimetric platforms with high precision irrigation. Two Droughtspotter rooms enable parallel experiments with different climate conditions to apply drought and heat stress to plants while measuring transpiration response.

The newly commissioned X-ray CT system will have major immediate applications in both cereal spike and root phenotyping. The system, built in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, can be used to accurately and quickly phenotype large numbers of cereal spikes. Measurement of spike and grain traits is critical for plant scientists to understand the effect of abiotic stresses, such as frost, heat or drought on grain development. The high throughput enables the screening of large genetic mapping panels and for breeders to select superior crop varieties.

Field phenotyping

The FieldExplorer is a ground-based phenotyping platform used to accurately measure the performance of plants in different environments non-destructively and over time, giving a greater ability to provide critical information about crop growth and plant health such as biomass, nutrient content, feed quality traits and stress responses. The FieldExplorer combines RGB, LiDAR, GPS/INS and two hyperspectral cameras and a software platform to provide fused data sets.

TPA also utilises UAVs for aerial phenotyping to complement imaging in the field, and has a strong partnership with the Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility (URAF).

Expertise at The Plant Accelerator

TPA is a true service facility, with the team focused on delivering high quality customer support, from initial consultation through to analysis of results.

The TPA team can provide advice on experimental design and optimal use of technology, supported by a cross-disciplinary team with a background in plant physiology, biometry, horticulture, data analysis, mechatronics, software engineering and statistics.

The facility is certified to undertake biosecurity and GM research, and the team can assist with the necessary applications.


TPA has supported postgraduate students through the APPN’s Postgraduate Internship Awards. Grants are provided to support access to the facility’s phenotyping capabilities and infrastructure to undertake collaborative projects.


The FieldExplorer is APPN’s ground-based phenotyping platform to measure plant growth and crop health in field trials non-destructively.


Dr Susie Robinson
Executive Director
T. +61 8 8313 0829

A/Prof Bettina Berger
Scientific Director
T. +61 8 8313 0825

Kerry Bormann
Business Manager TPA
T. +61 8 8313 6432

Partner Details



South Australian Multiomics Framework Initiative

BPA and SAGC are seeking expressions of interest from SA researchers who wish to conduct innovative multi-omics projects through a BPA-supported Framework Initiative. Read more here about the initiative and put in an EOI before May 31st.

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