Plant growth and phenotyping

Crop Science

More versatile and efficient crop production systems require an in-depth understanding of dynamic plant growth processes. Novel time-lapse imaging procedures acting at different spatial and temporal scales are core elements of the toolbox of our interdisciplinary team. In climate chambers, greenhouses and field sites, we apply visual, near-infrared and thermal imaging to quantify shoot and root architecture, dynamic and short-term growth processes as well as photosynthesis, gas exchange and compound composition of major and alternative crops alike.

These ‘phenotyping’ analyses, in concert with a range of approaches from plant ecophysiology, breeding and molecular analysis, will help elucidating plant genotypes and crop production systems that are optimized to regionally differing ecological niches. Moreover, they will facilitate an improved understanding of basic rules governing plant-environment-management interactions. This in turn is a necessary prerequisite to ameliorate the knowledge transfer between lab and field as well as between plant biology and agricultural sciences.

Recent Publications

  • Spectral Vegetation Indices to Track Senescence Dynamics in Diverse Wheat Germplasm
    Anderegg, Jonas; Yu, Kang; Aasen, Helge; Walter, Achim; Liebisch, Frank; Hund, Andreas
    Frontiers In Plant Science 10 Article Number: 1749 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01749 JAN 28 2020
  • Effect of species identity and diversity on biomass production and its stability in cover crop mixtures
    Wendling, Marina; Charles, Raphael; Herrera, Juan; Amosse, Camille; Jeangros, Bernard; et al.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment,  DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.04.032, SEP 1 2019
  • Phenotyping a Dynamic Trait: Leaf Growth of Perennial Ryegrass Under Water Limiting Conditions
    Yates, S; Jaskune, K; Liebisch, F; Nagelmuller, S; Kirchgessner, N; Kolliker, R; Walter, A; Brazauskas, G; Studer, B
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 10 10.3389/fpls.2019.00344 MAR 22 2019
  • A spatio temporal spectral framework for plant stress phenotyping
    Khanna, R; Schmid, L; Walter, A; Nieto, J; Siegwart, R; Liebisch, F
    PLANT METHODS, 15 10.1186/s13007-019-0398-8 FEB 7 2019
  • Precision Farming at the Nexus of Agricultural Production and the Environment
    Finger, Robert; Swinton, Scott M.; El Benni, Nadja; Walter Achim
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF RESOURCE ECONOMICS 11:313-335,  DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-100518-093929, 2019
  • Diel leaf growth of rapeseed at critically low temperature under winter field conditions
    Nagelmuller, S; Yates, S; Walter, A
    FUNCTIONAL PLANT BIOLOGY, 45 (11):1110-1118; 10.1071/FP17337 2018
  • Hyperspectral Canopy Sensing of Wheat Septoria Tritici Blotch Disease
    Yu, K; Anderegg, J; Mikaberidze, A; Karisto, P; Mascher, F; McDonald, BA; Walter, A; Hund, A
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9 10.3389/fpls.2018.01195 AUG 17 2018
  • Hyperspectral Sensors and Imaging Technologies in Phytopathology: State of the Art
    Mahlein, AK; Kuska, MT; Behmann, J; Polder, G; Walter, A Edited by: Leach JE; Lindow SE
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF PHYTOPATHOLOGY, VOL 56, 56 535-558; 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080417-050100 2018
  • Weed control in buckwheat: comparison of five selected herbicides
    Zellweger, Hansueli; Feichtinger, Georg; Perez, Eduardo; Walter, Achim; Hund, Andreas
    AGRARFORSCHUNG SCHWEIZ, 8 (7-8):310-317; JUL-AUG 2017
  • Feedbacks between soil penetration resistance, root architecture and water uptake limit water accessibility and crop growth - A vicious circle
    Colombi, Tino; Torres, Lorena Chagas; Walter, Achim; Keller, Thomas
    SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 626 1026-1035; 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.129 JUN 1 2018
  • Ranking Quantitative Resistance to Septoria tritici Blotch in Elite Wheat Cultivars Using Automated Image Analysis
    Karisto, Petteri; Hund, Andreas; Yu, Kang; Anderegg, Jonas; Walter, Achim; Mascher, Fabio; McDonald, Bruce A.; Mikaberidze, Alexey
    PHYTOPATHOLOGY, 108 (5):568-594; MAY 2018
  • Non-destructive measurement of soybean leaf thickness via X-ray computed tomography allows the study of diel leaf growth rhythms in the third dimension 
    Pfeifer, Johannes; Mielewczik, Michael; Friedli, Michael; et al. 
    JOURNAL OF PLANT RESEARCH, 131 (1): 111-124 JAN 2018
  • Changes in the allocation of endogenous strigolactone improve plant biomass production on phosphate-poor soils 
    Liu, Guowei; Pfeifer, Johannes; Francisco, Rita de Brito; et al. 
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 217 (2): 784-798 JAN 2018
Achim Walter

Prof. Dr. Achim Walter
ETH Zurich
Institute of Agricultural Sciences
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 32 72

Research topics

  • Root and leaf growth analysis
  • Phenotyping
  • Ecophysiology
  • Plant Breeding
  • Biotic and Abiotic Stress
  • Agronomy



  • Primary and Secondary Metabolism
  • Image Processing
  • Epigenetics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Insect Interactions
  • Global Change Biology