Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Health & Food / Project


European Infrastructure for Multi-scale Plant Phenomics and Simulation

A multi-scale phenotyping platform for food security in different agro-climatic scenarios


The European Infrastructure for Multi-scale Plant Phenomics and Simulation (EMPHASIS) is a distributed Research Infrastructure to develop and provide access to facilities and services addressing multi-scale phenotyping in different agro-climatic scenarios. EMPHASIS will establish an integrated European phenotyping infrastructure to analyse genotype performance under diverse environmental conditions and quantify the diversity of traits contributing to performance in diverse environmental scenario − plant architecture, major physiological functions and output, yield components and quality. EMPHASIS aims to address the technological and organizational limits of European Phenotyping, for a full exploitation of genetic and genomic resources available for crop improvement in changing climate.

Inserted in the ESFRI Roadmap in 2016, EMPHASIS is expected to enter the Implementation Phase in 2020 and become operational in 2021.


Sustainable intensification of crop production is a major challenge to ensure amount and quality of biomass for nutrition and industry. Designing high yielding crop varieties adapted to contrasting environmental conditions, climate change and management, is a priority. Technological advancements have boosted the characterisation of genomes, without sufficient development in phenotypic characterisation. The mission of EMPHASIS addresses an important bottleneck in sustainable and improved crop production in different, current and future, agro-climatic scenarios: how to translate from high-throughput genotypic analysis of crop variants to high-throughput and high-resolution phenotyping in order to identify high-yield crop varieties for defined environmental conditions. To achieve this, EMPHASIS proposes a major upgrade/reorientation of existing European Research Infrastructure by linking and developing national initiatives, amongst which are national platforms with (semi)-controlled conditions for high-resolution phenotyping and high-throughput phenomics, experimental fields with control of rainfall and CO2 highly-equipped with phenotyping devices, a coordinated network of field experiments in distributed sites with lighter but efficient phenotyping close to practical breeding set-ups and modelling platforms to test existing and virtual combinations of alleles in different climates and management practices. Some methods used will include sensors and imaging in plant architecture and dynamics, consistent distributed information system, and statistics and dynamic modelling.

EMPHASIS can test genotypes in current and future agro-climatic scenarios and provide community access to controlled and field conditions; link data acquisition to a European data management and to crop models simulating performance in current and future climates; develop, evaluate and disseminate novel technologies and provide new opportunities to European companies and make infrastructures and concepts accessible to academia and industry in Europe.

steps for implementation

The Preparatory Phase of EMPHASIS started in 2017 to bring the project to the level of legal, financial, and technical maturity required for implementation. EMPHASIS PP provide the basis for the establishment of the legal framework, the business plan and the preparation of an information system for a sustainable and innovative pan-European infrastructure for plant phenotyping. Actually, political support and commitment to EMPHASIS has been expressed by nine European countries in the form of previous investments and an additional investment from Germany. EMPHASIS has already committed 49 M€ (67%) of the total cost until full establishment in the next five years. EMPHASIS is already placing Europe in a leading position via the International Plant Phenotyping Network, and has already engaged further Member States in their current plans. It is timely that this is secured in a long-term, sustainable pan-European Research Infrastructure filling an important gap in the Health & Food landscape.

legal status
political support
lead country
prospective member countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
160 M€
Not Available
4 M€
73 M€
3.6 M€/year

Forschungszentrum Jülich
Jülich, Germany &
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique-INRA
Montpellier, France