The plant is seen as a biofactory whose exploitation for different purposes is crucial. It does not carry pathogens commonly associated with human infections, and is used to produce proteins for biopharmaceutical use. Proteins are molecules of great complexity and almost infinite diversity, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Plants offer unique advantages, particularly when the target proteins are difficult to produce in conventional systems, or need to be produced on a larger scale in response to urgent demand (as in the case of pandemic/seasonal influenza, for example). Protein production can present particular difficulties, hence the need to monitor any phenotypic modifications (observable traits of an organism) likely to have an impact on its evolution. Monitoring the expression of bioactive proteins and physiological variations is crucial to obtain a complete picture of the biological processes taking place in the plant. Existing methods for monitoring and phenotyping plants are, however, either destructive, time-consuming, laborious, sometimes subjective or incomplete, and above all microscopic.

The aim of the present PART project is to further develop a technological synergy combining several non-destructive multimode imaging approaches for the monitoring of model proteins for the benefit of the biophotonics sector and yield enhancement research. Specifically, we are determining new hardware strategies for non-destructive multimode fluorescence imaging of seedlings; investigating other markers in addition to GFP, such as scopoletin (a UVA-stimulated precursor marker of cell death); perfecting the automation of the technology; and acquiring images when applying abiotic stresses (light, temperature and humidity) as well as biotic stresses.