From Jefferson Lab: “Building Block Detectors for Plants”

“Plants face all kinds of stress. Bugs chew on them, they get fungal infections, and they can get too hot or cold. So how do plants respond to stress? Members of Jefferson Lab’s Radiation Detector and Imaging group are helping researchers at Duke University find out.

The Duke University Phytotron is a laboratory built to study plants. The Phytotron has so-called Environmental Growth Chambers that allow researchers to control nearly every aspect of a plant’s environment, from the nutrients it gets in the soil to the relative humidity and pollutants in the air. Fine-tuning individual aspects of a plant’s surroundings can help researchers identify those aspects that can help or harm plants.”

While a plant’s overall health can often be determined through simple observation, researchers sometimes need to see what’s happening on the inside. That’s where Jefferson Lab group leader Drew Weisenberger and his colleagues come in. They are working to develop tools that can image inside plants.

‘It’s at the point where biologists are kind of learning what we can provide and we’re trying to learn what they need. So they have to learn a little physics and we have to learn a little biology. We’re just trying to develop the tools and trying to get the tools to work,’ Weisenberger says.”

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The PhytoPET and PhytoBeta imaging systems let biologists see inside plants.

See the full article here.