Plant chip for high-throughput phenotyping of Arabidopsis†
We report on the development of a vertical and transparent microfluidic chip for high-throughput phenotyping of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Multiple Arabidopsis seeds can be germinated and grown hydroponically over more than two weeks in the chip, thus enabling large-scale and quantitative monitoring of plant phenotypes. The novel vertical arrangement of this microfluidic device not only allows for normal gravitropic growth of the plants but also, more importantly, makes it convenient to continuously monitor phenotypic changes in plants at the whole organismal level, including seed germination and root and shoot growth (hypocotyls, cotyledons, and leaves), as well as at the cellular level. We also developed a hydrodynamic trapping method to automatically place single seeds into seed holding sites of the device and to avoid potential damage to seeds that might occur during manual loading. We demonstrated general utility of this microfluidic device by showing clear visible phenotypes of the immutans mutant of Arabidopsis, and we also showed changes occurring during plant–pathogen interactions at different developmental stages. Arabidopsis plants grown in the device maintained normal morphological and physiological behaviour, and distinct phenotypic variations consistent with a priori data were observed via high-resolution images taken in real time. Moreover, the timeline for different developmental stages for plants grown in this device was highly comparable to growth using a conventional agar plate method. This prototype plant chip technology is expected to lead to the establishment of a powerful experimental and cost-effective framework for high-throughput and precise plant phenotyping.