Remote and Proximal Sensing: How Far Has It Come to Help Plant Breeders?


Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi, M., Singh, K.D., Pourreza, A., Sandhu, K.S., Adak, A., Murray, S.C., Eskandari, M., and Rajcan, I., “Remote and Proximal Sensing: How Far Has It Come to Help Plant Breeders?”, Advances in Agronomy, V 181, 2023

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Establishing plant breeding strategies in which the efficiency of using available genetic and environmental sources is improved in order to sustain developing cultivars with improved yield and quality is important for a given breeding program. Current advances in high throughput phenotyping and genotyping, along with sophisticated mathematical algorithms, have provided unprecedented opportunities for plant researchers across the world to work together to tackle current problems. To do so requires (i) creating standardized informative and precise phenotyping methods that can be used by researchers at a global scale, (ii) improving the resolution of hyperspectral cameras and sensors to quantify foliage and canopy traits for evaluating a wide rage of genotypes across a wide range of environments and areas, and (iii) improving machine and deep learning algorithms through which researchers are able to connect the mathematical results with biological data and interpret their decisions.


Global agriculture production needs to be well-positioned to feed the fast-growing world population. Plant breeders increase overall plant performance to meet the global food demand, evaluate large genetic populations of breeding lines rapidly and accurately to identify variation underlying important traits; increasingly better adaption to changing environments. However, accurate, quick, and non-destructive characterization of all lines simultaneously, remains challenging. Therefore, there is a dire need to strengthen plant breeding not only for breeding techniques but also in other areas, such as improved phenotyping. Advanced remote and proximal sensing have increased the pace to rapidly overcome phenotyping shortcomings and address relevant biological questions related to plant breeding, field scouting, and crop management. However, it is still unclear how far and to what extent remote and proximal sensing has come to help plant breeding in the past two decades. Here we try to address this question by reviewing varied aspects of remote and proximal sensing applications in plant breeding and identify possible solutions to the existing shortcomings provided as the future direction for plant breeding programs.

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