2021 News

Aspergillus flavus Spore Transport from Corn Fields to Cotton Fields

APS Logo

Aspergillus flavus spore capture data from a 2019 Cotton Incorporated sponsored project was analyzed. Multiple sources of information were combined to demonstrate that corn harvest could have been a significant source of A. flavus propagules at cotton sites. Presented at APS plant health 2021 online.
All Sites Full Analysis

Yield Improvement under Drought in Maize

Cover of J_Exp_Bot

Results from our research collaboration with Corteva (Pioneer Seed Company) were recently published in a special issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology on Plant Production in Water-Limited Environments. In the paper, “Reproductive resilience but not root architecture underpins yield improvement under drought in maize,” we discuss key phenotypic traits suspected of contributing to dramatic increases in grain yield over the last century and conclude that reproductive resilience was the main driver. Journal of Experimental Botany, Volume 72, Issue 14, 10 July 2021, Pages 5235– 5245, Link to Journal of Experimental Botany

2021 National Predictive Modeling Tools Initiative

The National Predictive Modeling Tools Initiative expanded efforts in 2021 to encompass eleven cotton disease management plots, eleven cotton seedling disease plots, twenty-two commercial cotton fields, and ground-level and aerial imagery of cotton fields for remote disease rating determination.

map of locations

USDA Expands Cotton Disease Monitoring in West Texas

Leveraging the efforts of the National Predictive Modeling Tools Initiative, the USDA ARS Plant Stress and Germplasm Development Research Station in Lubbock, TX has expanded cotton pathogen monitoring across the northern tier of Texas and into Oklahoma. The purpose is to track the migration of emerging cotton disease threats identified both East and West of Texas but not yet established in Texas.

map of locations

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2020 News

The Client Experience: Improving Turf Grass Rooting

image - grass in PSC Lab
World's Smallest Fairways

Bill Brown, Director of Brand Development / Distributor Support at AQUA-AID Solutions, describes how Phenotype Screening Cororation and The University of Tennessee utilized our simplified growth system to evaluate the benefits of Worm Power Turf for Golf Courses and other demanding applications.

Read the story at "Golf Course Industry" web page

Watch the Video Blog, where Bill Brown and Jim Brosnan of The University of Tennessee discuss the development of our protocols for this experiment

Read Jim Brosnan's article in TheTurfZone

USDA National Predictive Modeling Tool Initiative

2020 Pathogen program

In 2020 our air-borne pathogen program became subsumed into the USDA’s National Predictive Modeling Tool Initiative. We have our samplers in twenty (20) locations in twelve (12) states. For each location we provide hourly climatic metadata, and weekly spore count data for three pathogens of cotton. Several participants are developing predictive disease models for the monitored fields.

Oak Ridge High School Students Sweep at the Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair

Eric Armstrong’s project titled The Effect of Pseudomonas, Piriformispora indica and Laccaria bicolor on the Growth of Gossypium hirsutum (cotton) was awarded the top prize in the Senior division. He worked under the mentorship of Dan McDonald at Phenotype Screening Corp. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of three different endophytic microbial species on the growth of Gossypium hirstum.

Click on image to see pdf.

Eric Armstrong Poster

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2019 News

New Developments in Plant Improvement Characterization

2019 seminar

The University of Tennessee and Phenotype Screening Corporation sponsored a New Developments Seminar in honor of PSC visitors from the Center for Agricultural Resources Research, Hebei, China: Dr. Ziying Zhang and Dr. Liwei Shao. See below for pdf's of presentations

Bridging the gap between single-strain and community-level plant-microbiome chemical interactions, Dr. Sarah Lebeis, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, The University of Tennessee.
(pdf) (PowerPoint)

Monitoring plant-microbe associations in the rhizosphere in real time, Dr. Gladys Alexandre, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
(pdf) (PowerPoint)

Neutron Imaging of Soil, Rhizosphere & Root Water Dynamics, Jeffrey M. Warren, Staff Scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Joliot-Type spectrophotometry: Theory and Applications, Michael Vaughn, Product Development Scientist, SpectroLogiX, LLC.
(pdf) (PowerPoint)

Year Two: Cotton Inc. Pathogen Detection Program

LSU Site

In 2019 our airborne pathogen program sponsored by Cotton Inc. expanded to five states. We monitored three different crops: cotton, corn, and soybean. We successfully demonstrated the ability to use the same capture media to simultaneous detect six crop pathogens: Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, Corynespora cassiicola, Cercospora zeae-maydis/Zeina, Cercospora sojina, and Phakopsora pachyrhizi. This site at LSU will compare four types of spore capture technology.

New Service: Exudate Capture and Analysis

image - corn root tip showing exudate
Corn Root Tip with Exudate, root diameter approx 0.7mm

The Semi-Hydroponic growth system used by Phenotype Screening Corporation offers the opportunity to capture root exudate without the complications of soil or soil biota. This method of collecting exudate may be useful for studying differences in plant root exudate due to genetics or treatments. This may prove useful for understanding the mode of action of a treatment or for modifying (by genetics or treatment) the exudate to suit a desirable bacterium or to protect the plant against undesirable rhizosphere biota.

This service is offered in collaboration with Dr. Gladys Alexandre and the Alexandre Lab at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Alexandre studies soil-dwelling bacteria and their interaction with plant roots.

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2018 News

Year One: Cotton Inc. Pathogen Detection Program

2018 results

In 2018 we partnered with Assured Bio Labs in Oak Ridge, TN and in Danville, VA to field inexpensive, passive air-borne pathogen capture devices in commercial cotton fields in North Carolina as a proof of concept for our sponsor Cotton Incorporated. The samplers survived two hurricanes and captured the dynamics of pathogen inoculum build up over time. A chart showing quantification of the cotton pathogen Alternaria alternata is shown above.

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2017 News

New Capability: Effect of Surfactant on Spread of Foliar Spray

The spreadability of a foliar spray on the surface of a leaf can be strongly affected by the addition of a surfactant to the formulation.

image treatment only, no surfactant on cotton leaf image treatment with surfactant "C" on cotton leaf image treatment with surfactant "K" on cotton leaf

Video is available at Phenotype Screening Corporation YouTube Channel.

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2016 News


Workshop Highlights: Small-Sample-Size Statistics in Agriculture; How to Maximize Business Value, held November 3, 2016

Thanks to all of our presenters and attendees for making this seminar a resounding success. Presentations are available below.


Daniel McDonald, President, Phenotype Screening Corporation, "Small Sample Size Statistics, Introduction" (pdf) (video)

"Outline of a Theory of Statistical Estimation Based on the Classical Theory of Probability"
"The Probable Error of a Mean"

Dr. Ronald Michaels, Technical Director, Phenotype Screening Corporation, "Decision Making in the Face of Uncertainty" (pdf) (video)

"Chaos in Biology"

Dr. Kater Hake, Vice President Agriculture & Environmental Research, Cotton Inc., "What Growers Expect from New Product Introductions and Claims" (pdf) (video)

Professor Vasileios Maroulas, The University of Tennessee, Department of Mathematics,
"Foundations of Small-Sample-Size Statistical Inference and Decision Making" (pdf) (video)

Dr. Ronald Wasserstein, Executive Director, American Statistical Association,
"Doctor, It Hurts when I p" (pdf) (video)

"The ASA's statement on p-values: context, process, and purpose"

Stefan Conrady, Managing Partner, Bayesia USA, "From Statistical Inference to Probabilistic Reasoning; An Example in the Biological Sciences" (pdf) (video)

"Reverend Thomas Bayes, original publication"

Professor Edzard Santen, University of Florida, Department of Agronomy, "Common Mistakes in Small Sample Size Biological Experiments and How to Avoid Them" (pdf) (video)

"Replication Concepts for Bioenergy Research Experiments"
"Fundamentals of Experimental Design: Guidelines for Designing Successful Experiments"

Dr. Richard Woodward, Director International, Stoller USA, Inc., "Increasing Precision in Agronomic Field Trials Using Latin Square Designs" (pdf) (video)

"Increasing Precision in Agronomic Field Trials Using Latin Square Designs"
"Spatially-Balanced Complete Block designs for field experiments"

Drs. Mary Kroner and Rebekah Kelly, Research Scientists, AgBiome Inc., "Dealing with Multiple Variabilities: Deciphering Complex Organism Interactions in Pest x Microbe x Protein Bioassays"

Dr. Rachel Hillmer, Biostatistician and Computational Biologist, Mendel Biological Solutions, "Examining Residuals for Validation and Added Confidence" (pdf) (video)

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June 2016, Ronald Michaels, Technical Director, participated in Zealquest Scientific Technology Co., Ltd. 2016 Plant Phenotyping Service Week Seminars. Ron discussed how Phenotype Screening Corporation's x-ray based root imaging technology combined with conventional above ground methods provides the whole picture of plant growth. See Ron's presentation here.

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2015 News


February 2015, Ronald Michaels, Technical Director, presented the company's vision for the imaging and analysis of internal corn seed morphology at the Seed Biology, Production and Quality 2015 course held at UC Davis. See Ron's presentation here.


January 5, 2015, Dan McDonald presented "Alternative Approaches to Cotton Seed Germination Under Low Moisture Conditions" at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. Click here to see Dan's presentation.

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2014 News


Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 and Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 Dan McDonald was the morning speaker at the Fertility of the Minds workshops held in Calgary and Edmonton, Canada. Dan presented "Studying and Understanding Root Architecture: the 5 W's How?" to Canadian growers. Click here to read the report.

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2013 News

Dan McDonald at 
	Syngenta Global Root Health Forum Dan McDonald at Syngenta Global Root Health Forum

2013 Global Root Health Forum, hosted by Syngenta . On September 2-4 more than 125 technical experts from 25 countries worldwide met in Beijing, China, to discuss the latest research findings and innovations related to Root Health. According to Syngenta's press release "Root Health research offers untapped potential for valuable discovery and innovation by studying the multiple factors and complex interactions impacting root growth. Syngenta sees healthier roots as leading to better crop performance and stress tolerance, resulting in increased, more stable yields." PSC President Dan McDonald delivered an invited presentation, a poster, and sat on a discussion panel. Dan's presentation is available as a ppt (with animations) and as a pdf. Dans poster is also available.

SeedQuest Logo

May 11, 2013, "The challenge of putting the characteristics of a root into a single number - An interview with Dan McDonald, president and co-founder of the Phenotype Screening Corporation". Read article at SeedQuest or explore Global Root Health Network group on Linked in (registration required).

Nematode Resistance Screening

January 2013. Phenotype Screening Corporation President Dan McDonald presented at the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conferences January 10, 2013. The title of Dan's presentation is Nematode Susceptibility Rankings From Soft-Tissue X-Ray Imaging. Click here to see the presentation.

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2012 News

Teknovation Logo

Web based service has a feature article entitled Phenotype Screening proud to be the “root lab.” Click here to see the article.

Nematode Resistance Screening

August 2012. Dr. Ernest Bernard, Professor, The University of Tennessee, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department Made a presentation to the Society of Nematologists Meeting, August 12 -16, 2012 Savannah, GA, entitled X-RAY IMAGING OF ROOT SYSTEMS INFECTED WITH ENDOPARASITIC NEMATODES. Click here to see the presentation.

Chinese Patent Office Banner

July 2012. Phenotype Screening Corporation received Notification of Peoples Republic of China Patent Registration Title: Plant Root Characterization System, Application No: 200680015951, issued July 5, 2012. Click here and search by Application Number: 200680015951.

February 2012. Phenotype Screening Corporation President Dan McDonald presented at the Southern Branch, American Society of Agronomy meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, February 5 - 7. Click here to see Dan's Presentation: "Field Harvested Maize Root Architecture Comparisons under Different Treatments and Tillage Conditions using Soft Tissue X-Ray Imaging."

Field Harvested Maize Roots

The above maize root systems are typical of Field Harvested, washed, and x-ray imaged root systems.

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2011 News

Phenotype Screening Corporation 160 plant capacity root lab

December 2011. Phenotype Screening Corporation root lab expanded to a capacity of 160 corn plants in one meter deep containers.

Corn Root Worm Resistance

October 2011. Phenotype Screening Corporation President Dan McDonald made a presentation at the Crop Science Society of America International Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, October 16 – 19, 2011. The presentation was to be made by first author Kenton E. Dashiell, Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) Institute of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture; however, Ken was unable to attend as planned. Click here to download this presentation. This is the first public result using Phenotype Screening Corporation's new Automated Analysis Software, RhizoTraits.

Phenotype Screening Corporation Prairie Grass Analysis

May 2011. Professor Emanuel Dzantor has graciously allowed us to show the results of an architectural analysis of washed roots study that we did of Prarie Grass.

The below image shows Root System Architecture (RSA) Signature for Total Root Length. The blue bars are for plants grown in pH 4.5 conditions. The red bars are for plants grown in pH 6.5 conditions. This allows a quick comparison of plants under different treatments.

Dzantor Prairie Grass RSA

Click here to see results of Phenotype Screening Corporation's study.

March 2011. Phenotype Screening Corporation has been awarded a Tennessee Technology Development Corp. grant for the commercialization of our Advanced Plant Characterization for Crop Improvement software. The purpose of this software is to segment and analyze x-ray images of plant root systems in order to provide information about root size, root mass distribution, root angle and other information of interest to researchers.

Phenotype Screening Corporation RhizoTraits Splash Screen

Please contact us, for further details of this now complete project.

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2010 News

President Dan McDonald presented a poster at the 5th International Symposium of Physiological Processes in Roots of Woody Plants August 8, 2010.

Phenotype Screening Corporation Woody Roots Conference

Poster entitled entitled "Windthrow Resistance Screening Based on Non-destructive, Low Energy X-Ray Imaging of Early Root Emergence from Poplar Hardwood Cuttings". Click here to download the poster.

Phenotype Screening Corporation President Dan McDonald participated in the Digital-Imaging-of-Roots-In-situ Workshop 5th International Symposium of Physiological Processes in Roots of Woody Plants August 8, 2010.

Roots of Woody Plants

Dan presented our vision of root imaging and analysis. Click here to download Dan's slides.

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2009 News

Lisa D. Zachary, University of Tennessee, Knoxville published her Honors Thesis Project "Nutrient delivery system for phenotype screening corporation." Phenotype Screening Corporation participated under a Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering Senior Design program in March 2009. Her collaborators in the Senior Design program were Haley Baker and Meredith Neal. The project was supervised by Dr. Don Daring. Click here to download Lisa's Thesis.

Phenotype Screening Corporation Chief Scientist Delivers presentation and poster at Plant & Animal Genomes XVII Conference, January 10-14, 2009. Click here to download slides. Click here to download Poster.

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2008 News

Phenotype Screening Corporation Poster in Japanese

Phenotype Screening Corporation President Dan McDonald made a presentation at the Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association(JAIMA) Expo 2008 Japan. Click here to download the presentation (in Japanese).

Robert Kodrzycki, Chief Scientist, Phenotype Screening Corporation, delivered a keynote address to the 5th International Symposium on Adventitious Root Formation held June 16 - 20, 2008 at Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain. Click here to download Bob's slides.

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2007 News

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted a Patent to Phenotype Screening Corporation.

Phenotype Screening Corporation US Patent

U.S. Patent 7,278,236 B2, Plant Root Characterization System issued Oct. 9, 2007. Click here to download US Patent.

Alexander L. Friend of the USDA Forest Service made a presentation entitled Below ground management of trees: novel perspectives on imaging at the American Society for Horticultural Science on Monday, July 16, 2007. A portion of this presentation described work done by the Forest Service in collaboration with Phenotype Screening Corporation as a part of a Phenotype Screening Corporation USDA SBIR PhI project. Download presentation.

Phenotype Screening Corporation wins R&D 100 Award. July 1, 2007, R&D Magazine has announced its 2007 R&D 100 Awards. One of the winners is RootViz FS, the x-ray based plant root visualization method developed by Phenotype Screening Corporation. This award is presented annually by R&D Magazine to the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year, as determined by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine. The winning of an R&D 100 Award provides a mark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the most innovative ideas of the year.

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2006 News

Dan McDonald presents poster at International Poplar Symposium held in Nanjing, China June 5th through June 9th, 2006. The poster entitled Poplar Root System Characterization for Next Generation Root Research discussed planned research activities under PSC's recently awarded USDA SBIR program. Please contact us for a copy.

Dr. Fred Allen, The University of Tennessee, presented a paper at the American Society of Agronomy meeting in Orlando on Tuesday, 7 February 2006 entitled X-ray Based Soybean Root Visualization and Characterization, by Fred Allen, Dan McDonald, Richard Johnson and Ronald Michaels. Please contact us for a copy.

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2005 News

Phenotype Screening Corporation was featured in the May 2005 issue of Vision Systems Design. Phenotype Screening Corporation's Technical Director, Ron Michaels, describes the x-ray technology behind our plant root visualization system. Click here.

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