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Plant Breeding, Genetics, & Genomics

NIFA/NSF Phenomics Workshop

NIFA and the National Science Foundation cosponsored a workshop on April 1–2, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri about the challenges and opportunities related to the study of predicting phenotype from genotype on a large scale and at sufficient throughput, resolution and precision.

Phenomics, the study of an organism’s catalogue of phenotypes (the phenome), is a rapidly emerging area of science, which seeks to characterize phenotypes in a rigorous and formal way, and link these traits to the associated genes and gene variants (alleles).  It promises to revolutionize the life sciences, adding predictive power to a field of study that is currently largely descriptive. Potential applications in diverse human endeavors, from industry to agriculture to medicine, make the development of the phenomics field imperative. But the scale of phenomics projects and the disparate data generated pose great challenges to advancing the fields. In brief:

  • Data must be managed and stored appropriately for it to be analyzed computationally by many users.
  • The workforce must be trained so that quantitative and computational methods are well aligned with solid biological understanding.
  • Balance of funding must be maintained to sustain research from the basic to the applied.
  • A balance of scale of projects should be attained to allow for individual as well as collaborative efforts.
  • More opportunities are needed for researchers in disparate fields to communicate and collaborate for phenomics to move forward.



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