High-throughput phenotyping of drought-stress and Fusarium wilt in lettuce using UAV-based thermography
Funding Quarter of Year
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) production in Arizona is one of the most valuable agricultural industries within the state as demonstrated by the fact that Arizona provides over 90% of the nation’s winter leafy greens. However, like all agricultural production, it is threatened by both abiotic and biotic stresses that can cause significant economic losses for growers as well as the local economies that lettuce production supports. To combat these challenges, having fast, quantitative methods to assess the overall health and status of lettuce plants in the field is imperative, and methods that are developed must provide actionable information to growers and be of scientific value to researchers. This research proposal seeks to leverage recent advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based thermography to test and evaluate its use in lettuce production for two specific objectives: i) detecting and quantifying water deficit stress for use in basic science research; ii) and identifying the presence of Fusarium wilt in grower fields for production applications. The results of this research will assist plant breeders and geneticist in the task of developing more stress resilient cultivars via understanding the genetic mechanisms of stress adaptive traits that can be bred for while producers will benefit through the development of a high-throughput method to identify and map the location of Fusarium infected plants in their field. Through the early detection of plant stress in the field, lettuce producers will be better equipped to make timely management decisions in-season to conserve or reallocate crop resources to maximize profitability.