Plant Imaging Consortium A new perspective on plants

What do we do?

The NSF-funded Plant Imaging Consortium (PIC) brings together experts in plant biology, radiochemistry, phenomics, imaging, and computational biology to apply high-throughput phenotyping and molecular imaging techniques to the study of plant stress biology. High-throughput phenotyping (HTP) allows breeders to screen large populations of plants quickly and efficiently, and to quantify numerous complex traits that are not obvious to the naked eye. Molecular imaging (MI) techniques such positron emission tomography (ie. PET scans) utilize radioactive, fluorescent, or luminescent probes to elucidate the physiological processes that govern stress tolerance or susceptibility in plants. Together, these bioimaging technologies have transformative power to link genotype to phenotype and identify genetic sources of stress tolerance for crop improvement.

High-throughput phenotyping (HTP)
Arkansas State University

Molecular imaging (MI)
Washington University

Latest News »

  • 2/20/2017 - Fiona Goggin, a PIC faculty member at the University of Arkansas, and Chris Topp, a PIC affiliate from the Danforth Center, were interviewed recently in a Nature article featuring the implementation of new technologies in high throughput phenotyping. Check out the Nature article and a follow-up article in Scientific American!
  • 10/24/2016 - On Friday, October 7th, members from the Arkansas State University PIC team provided hands-on demonstrations in plant science to hundreds of local citizens and community members during "Science Fun Night/ Mad Scientist GLO-run". In addition, PIC shared their enthusiasm for science at the A-State Regional Farmers’ Market on the morning of October 8th. During both events, attendees investigated Arabidopsis phenotypes, identified and sorted common vegetables into their botanical parts, and explored plant metabolism in the "Vitamin C Pathway" game. PIC team members included Dr. Argelia Lorence, Shea Harris, Lucia Acosta, Jarrod Creameans, Erin Langley, Kendl Fischer." The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute at Arkansas State University.
  • 7/16/2016 - PIC faculty and staff hosted a professional development training workshop for K-12 teachers interested in the Mutant Millets Program. The one day workshop held at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science, and the Arts in Hot Springs, AR, was attended by 9 secondary science teachers from AR and Missouri. During the training, the teachers received hands-on experience in starting and managing the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Mutant Millet program in their classroom. Highlights included how to’s in planting, data collection, mutant phenotype identification, using PIC’s online data repository. All teachers plan to use their new Mutant Millet kits in their classrooms for the 2016-2017 school year
  • 6/17/2016 - The Plant Imaging Consortium hosted its second annual Plant High Throughput Phenotyping Workshop June 13 - 16, 2016 at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute at Arkansas State University. Participants learned the experimental design of a phenotyping experiment, plant material preparation and collection, image acquisition, and image and data analysis relevant to the research in their home institutions’ laboratories. Invited speakers talked about how radiochemicals and positron emission tomography (a.k.a. PET) can be used to study transport, metabolism, and other processes in plants. Two faculty, three post-doctoral associates, five graduate students, two undergraduate students, and two laboratory technicians attended the workshop from seven institutions in Arkansas and Missouri and one in Mexico.

Our Goals

  • Make infrastructure for HTP and MI accessible to plant biologists throughout Arkansas, Missouri, and beyond
  • Develop new protocols and analysis tools to use HTP and MI to study the spatial and temporal dynamics of plant stress responses
  • Promote community standards for the design, analysis, and reporting of HTP, MI, and other bioimaging experiments
  • Strenghten education and workforce development in biology, chemistry, and computational science


Plant Imaging Consortium (PIC) was initiated in August 2014 with funding from the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR Track-2 Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. Its mission is to apply new imaging technologies to advance research and education in plant biology, and to combat crop losses to sources of plant stress such as drought, poor soils, insects and diseases. The consortium brings together expertise and facilities for high- throughput phenotyping and molecular imaging that are located throughout Missouri and Arkansas, and supports interdisciplinary collaborations between the two states. PIC also promotes education in science and technology by providing teaching modules to local schools, and is creating linkages with private industry through internship programs and seminar series.

Principal Investigators: Gail McClure (Arkansas Science and Technology Authority) and John Walker (University of Missouri, Columbia), state EPSCoR directors for Arkansas and Missouri.

Co- Principal Investigators: David Braun (University of Missouri, Columbia), Fiona Goggin (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), Silvia Jurisson (University of Missouri, Columbia), Argelia Lorence (Arkansas State University), and Yuan-Chuan Tai (Washington University, St. Louis).

External Advisory Board: Steve Borleske, chair (University of Delaware/Dupont), Glenda Gillaspy (Virginia Tech University), Edgar Spalding (University of Wisconsin), Richard Ferrieri (Brookhaven National Laboratory), Drew Weisenberger, (Thomas Jefferson Lab National Accelerator Facility), Joan Peckham (University of Rhode Island).


Member Institutions

National Science foundation awards #1430427 and #1430428: Collaborative Research on Plant Stress Response through Innovations in Phenomics and Molecular Imaging Technologies
Developed By:
The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies