Application of Synchrotron Imaging for Crop Improvement Workshop June 10-12, 2014

Posted on April 22, 2014

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This June 10-12, Ag-West Bio and the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron will host an international workshop in the Application of Synchrotron Imaging for Crop Improvement at the Radisson Hotel in Saskatoon. CLSheader Researchers using cutting edge technologies for crop development and synchrotron imaging will be on site to discuss the latest developments in crop research, along with the challenges currently facing agricultural imaging. Open to industries, producer groups, policy makers and scientists, this workshop will help illuminate the advantages of synchrotron science to agriculture to support the development of better performing crops. A synchrotron is a source of brilliant light that enables scientists to study the microstructure and chemical properties of materials. Extremely bright synchrotron light is produced by accelerating electrons close to the speed of light using radio frequency waves and powerful magnets. The light—spanning the spectrum from infrared through soft X-rays to high energy X-rays—is used at 'beamline' or laboratory endstations where researchers select specific wavelengths of light to observe matter down to the atomic level. Interior-photo-of-CLS-(2) Photo: Visitors can get a view of the CLS synchrotron from a boardwalk that runs around the interior of the facility.

“On an international level, many public and private research organizations are using conventional imaging techniques to support pre-field plant selection, but they have some challenges,” says Royal Hinther, the workshop co-chair. “The synchrotron is going to give them quantitative information, as opposed to qualitative, meaning they may not need to look at as many plant lines when doing their pre-field selections.”

Facade-of-the-CLS-0729-(2) Photo: The Canadian Light Source synchrotron is located on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, SK

For Canadian farmers, one of the greatest benefits of synchrotron imaging could be its increased capabilities to understand many diseases which affect canola and wheat. For example, the ability to structurally and chemically characterise the disease process, aiding in identifying more precisely genetic mechanisms associated with crop disease resistance. “With synchrotron techniques we can watch the flowering process as well as water movement in real-time, including the amount and how fast it’s moving. This will give you a quantitative measure of how that plant is going to perform under various conditions in the field,” says Hinther. With this kind of detailed information, researchers should be able to combine the data with genetic markers to find the best genetic solutions in the development of better-performing crops, more quickly and effectively. Equally promising is the unique ability of synchrotron techniques to image root structures down to the micron, and possibly the nanoscale level, while still in the soil. The hard X-rays offered on beamlines like BMIT, the Biomedical Imaging and Therapy beamline at the CLS are behind this capability. The latest techniques and research in these crop development methods will be discussed and presented by international leaders at the Application of Synchrotron Imaging for Crop Improvement Workshop, offering the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge of crop development. In addition to talks from internationally recognized leaders in plant imaging, the workshop will include exhibitor booths, a poster session, networking events and a tour of the CLS. Participants will have opportunities to meet some of the world’s leading innovators in this industry, in both research and commercialization.

For more information or to register for the workshop, visit the event website.