If you have ever visited the PhotosynQ webpage (you’re reading the PhotosynQ blog, so I’ll assume you have), you know that the banner across our homepage reads “Truly Collaborative Plant Research.”
We have always aspired to making PhotosynQ a flexible platform to accommodate many forms of collaboration. For example, we hope the open nature of PhotosynQ data combined with built-in discussion tools will foster communication and collaboration between researchers across the globe.
I recently returned from Uganda, where I conducted some training workshops and (hopefully) established a long-term collaboration between PhotosynQ and the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI). Before my trip, MaRCCI had a few MultispeQ devices, a few students had used PhotosynQ, and they have even published a few papers. However, until now, there has been little direct communication between MaRCCI and PhotosynQ.
After spending 2 days together, learning how to create robust projects and collect, analyze and interpret quality photosynthesis data, we hope to develop a much stronger collaboration.
What does ‘stronger’ collaboration mean?
MaRCCI already has access to PhotosynQ’s low-cost, cutting edge phenotyping technologies and platform for data storage, visualization and management. Building a stronger collaboration means giving MaRCCI students and faculty the opportunity to work directly with the PhotosynQ team to analyze the links between complex photosynthesis phenotypes and crop outcomes (this requires sharing of outcome data such as yield, disease resistance, etc). It also brings MaRCCI into the PhotosynQ development workflow. So, as we continue to work on automating advanced analytical tools like multivariate analysis, prediction and QTL mapping we will work closely with MaRCCI students and faculty to make sure that what we are developing will solve their problems.
On the flip side, collaboration with MaRCCI offers PhotosynQ some great benefits. MaRCCI recently received support from the World Bank as an “African Higher Education Centre of Excellence” in plant breeding and related activities. This means that they are positioned to be a hub of plant breeding training for breeding programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They receive Masters and PhD students from 20 different countries, and while I was there I met students from Benin, Burundi and Tanzania, just to name a few. Such a diverse group of students allows us to disseminate PhotosynQ technology over a wide geographical area, and have much greater impact.
The end result, we hope, will be a long-term partnership that improves the education and capacity of young plant breeders across Africa and helps PhotosynQ continue to evolve as an advanced phenotyping platform.
Personally, I look forward to continuing the work with a great institution with enthusiastic students and faculty.