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Technologica – chlorophyll fluorescence imaging system for rapid plant screening

Technologica – chlorophyll fluorescence imaging system for rapid plant screening - February 2014. Technologica

University of Essex spin-out company Technologica was set up in 2001 to develop and market the development of chlorophyll fluorescence imaging technology to measure active photosynthesis, an important indicator of the physiological condition of a plant.

The CF Imager enables rapid and non-invasive screening of plant samples, and can analyse the physiological responses such as growth rates, to the experimental application of herbicides, genetic modification or stress conditions. The benefits to agricultural and horticultural businesses and researchers interested in food security mean these systems have been supplied to commercial and academic plant laboratories around the world for over a decade.

Data breakout

1994-1998: First BBSRC grants to Professor Neil Baker's laboratory, University of Essex
250 Number of samples that can be scanned simultaneously
2004 First units are sold, more than 50 complete units by 2013

Technologica followed research carried out by Dr Kevin Oxborough and John Bartlington in the laboratory of Professor Neil Baker at the Department for Biological Sciences, University of Essex, who developed the scientific algorithms that could be used in a practical instrument to measure a range of chlorophyll fluorescence parameters. Support for the research that would eventually be associated with the development of the CF Imager came from BBSRC funding to Baker in 1994 and 1998, several other research funding bodies, and the University of Essex.

"The development of the chlorophyll fluorescence imaging system has enabled new insights into many aspects of plant physiology in leaves at cellular and sub-cellular levels," says Baker. "It's now available to a worldwide market and helping, for example, to develop crops for improved tolerance to environmental stresses."

"Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging has been used to influence decision making regarding follow-up of certain novel chemical analogues in relation to their phytotoxicity [toxic effect on plants]," says one of Technologica's customers, Barry Elsdon of Syngenta. "The fact that CF Imagers can accommodate high-throughput screening and enable rapid imaging of transient effects has distinct positive implications relating to glasshouse time and resource efficiencies."