Overview & History
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), is Australia's national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO undertakes a wide range of research to inform and improve the health, welfare, sustainability and productivity of people, communities, regions and industries.
CSIRO's Black Mountain laboratories, located in Canberra, Australia, are the central research facilities of CSIRO Plant Industry, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and CSIRO Land and Water. The site has extensive facilities to cater to a range of plant, animal, insect, atmospheric, land and water science including:
- Plant growth facilities, glasshouses, controlled environment cabinets and tissue culture rooms
- Quarantine facilities
- Laboratories for gene technology and other research
- The Australian National Insect Collection
- The Australian National Herbarium
Approximately 1000 staff work at CSIRO Black Mountain laboratories including some of the leading researchers in the field of plant breeding, molecular biology, ecosystem sciences, atmospheric and water research and many other fields.
Vision and Collaboration
A powerful advance in the biological sciences has been the ability to rapidly sequence and map the genomes of many organisms, giving scientists access to information unimaginable just a few decades ago. In the agricultural sciences, many important crop species have now been sequenced and this bank of information provides a powerful “toolbox” for targeting improvements for the breeding of new crop varieties that are higher yielding, more disease resistant and can address important health problems. To this end, the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) was created through a partnership between the CSIRO, universities and government to develop tools and techniques to allow for the rapid 'phenotyping’ of plant characteristics or traits and use this information to build upon our knowledge about how plants grow and develop. The APPF is now developing the next generation of robotic and imaging research tools to investigate plant function and performance.
Central to this capability was the provision of controlled environment facilities that can accurately control the environmental parameters that impact on plants. In 2006, Conviron and CSIRO began discussions for the new facilities and to explore ways by which Conviron could add value to the project.
The Canberra–based node of the APPF, the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (HRPPC), is located at CSIRO Plant Industry and is one of the most advanced publicly owned facilities of its kind in the world. The Centre has established a reputation as a world leader in developing and validating the next generation of research tools to probe plant function and performance under controlled environment conditions and in the field. The facility currently features 30 Conviron cabinets including PGC20’s, A1000 Adaptis cabinets and specialized cabinets for low temperature work or for experiments with tall plants. As the world heads towards a population of 9 billion by 2050, the HRPPC will be at the centre of finding answers to boosting yields of important crops like wheat and rice as well as other pressing agricultural challenges of our times.
Interestingly, the HRPPC was realised through a partial refurbishment of the internationally recognized CSIRO Canberra Phytotron. In 2012, the Phytotron celebrated its 50th anniversary and leading up to these celebrations there was a further major refurbishment of the facility that saw the provision of 63 new reach-in plant growth cabinets and 6 walk-ins rooms.
To learn more, visit the APPF website which operates a geographically distributed model with facilities at the University of Adelaide, at CSIRO in Canberra and at the Australian National University – three internationally renowned plant research organizations.