The Utrecht Phytotron
The Utrecht Phytotron is a state-of-the art research facility that enables the study of interactions between plants and their environment. A range of climate rooms enable precise experimental variation of key environmental factors that affect plant performance. Environmental factors that are varied can be abiotic such as temperature, relative humidity, light quality and atmospheric composition, but also biotic factors such as microbiome composition and the effects of microbial and insect attackers are studied in the Phytotron.
The Phytotron consists of 6 multi-layer rooms (plant growth area 60-80 m2), 12 single-layer rooms (plant growth area 29 m2) and 18 cabinets in which temperature (range: 15-30°C (+/- 1.0 ºC), relative humidity (range: 50%-90% rH ), day length and light intensity (0-400 µmol/m2/s) can be continuously controlled, monitored and logged. All single layer rooms are equipped with an automatic watering system. In three of the single layer rooms, atmospheric CO2 concentrations can regulated to below- or above-ambient levels (150-1500 ppm CO2) and the Phytotron is adapted to allow experimentation with genetically modified (micro)organisms. In addition, the Phytotron is fully equipped to monitor plant parameters. The equipment includes continues camera systems, extensometer for measuring cell wall extensibility, photoacoustic online ethylene detectors, gaseous molecule mixing systems (for ethylene, O2, N2, CO2), leaf chamber and whole plant devices for gas exchange measurements, and LED red/far-red light treatment boxes.