Poplar Root System Characterization Studies for Next Generation Root Research

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2007-33610-18517
Agency Tracking Number: 2006-00026
Amount: $346,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
10233 Chapman Highway, Seymour, TN, 37865
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Daniel McDonald
 (865) 385-8641
Business Contact
 Daniel McDonald
Title: President
Phone: (865) 385-8641
Email: mcdonalddw@phenotypescreening.com
Research Institution
We propose a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between Phenotype Screening Corporation, (PSC), and the USDAs Forest Services Northern Research Station to investigate the suitability of PSCs recent innovation, Plant Root Characterization System, for use in tree research. The Plant Root Characterization System, (PRCS), employs low energy digital x-ray radiography together with specially formulated artificial substrate and container materials in order to provide high resolution x-ray images of plant root structure. This x-ray imaging can be repeated on the same plant at different times in its growth cycle to reveal plant root morphology over time in a non-destructive manner. This innovation has opened new avenues of research for plant scientists interested in root systems. There remain unanswered scientific questions as to the applicability of the device for long-term tree research. The Northern Research Station, (NRS), has a long research history into tree root dynamics and has evaluated and used most state-of-the-art approaches to root measurement and characterization. NRS staff researchers are interested in characterizing the PRCS performance and limitations for tree root research. In Phase I, NCRS and PSC compared Poplar tree seedling growth and root development in both soils and PSCs artificial substrate and container materials. Traditional root system characterization methods, presently used by NCRS, were compared against measures provided by the PRCS. The NCRS and PSC jointly developed results were used to identify viable application domains for the system in forestry research, identify shortcomings in materials and approach that if corrected could enable additional applications in forestry research and identify areas of research where the system should not be applied. Phase II will implement prioritized recommended enhancements and demonstrate the suitability of the device in the commercially and scientifically important area of Poplar phenotype screening. This information will be useful to government, university and industrial researchers interested in enhanced root characterization instrumentation.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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