Research departments


OV 6 research teams

The Plant Observatory (PO) is a large and unique cluster of integrated facilities dedicated to multi-level phenotyping of plants.
The skills of the facilities cover a wide range of technologies and analyzes: from the cultivation and phenotyping of plants to their biochemical, chemical, metabolic and visual characterization. It also includes the Versailles Arabidopsis Stock Center (VASC), which provides users with a very high number of natural accessions and mutant or recombinant lines (RILs). The facilities staff have an extensive portfolio of know-how and expertise which includes sample preparation and data analysis.

Biological questions

The Plant Observatory (PO) is divided into several components:

PO-Plant facilities and Phenoscope:
> cultivation and production of plants and plant tissues under controlled conditions in greenhouses, culture chambers, quarantine or biosecurity level S3. Infection with plant pathogens.
> automated phenotyping (4 high-throughput phenotyping robots for Arabidopsis allowing visible macroscopic imaging, IR or multispectral, and a Phenoscope 'XL' for medium-sized plants or post-flowering Arabidopsis seed production).

> propagation, storage and distribution of genetic material (50,000 insertion mutants, several thousands recombinant Arabidopsis and accessions lines).

PO-Analyzes (Cytology /Imaging; Chemistry/Metabolism; Biochemistry):
> protein analyzes (heterologous expression, functional and structural study, purification), protein / protein or protein / ligand interactions (thermophoresis)
> plant imaging: confocal and visible microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, in situ hybridization, laser dissection microscopy, flow cytometry, subcellular localization and dynamic immunolocalization (rotating disc microscopy) and FISH.
> profiling of metabolites: analysis of primary (amino acids and sugars) and secondary metabolites (cell walls, flavonoids, etc.) by GC-MS, MALDI-TOF, LC-MS / MS, quantification of lipids and plant hormones by uHPLC-MS / MS, isotopic labeling and isotopic analysis (elementary analysis and IR-MS), in situ analysis (infrared spectroscopy FT-IR and NIRS).  

Biological models, equipment  

The facilities hosts projects concerning model species (Arabidopsis, Brachypodium) as well as cultivated plants (corn, peas, flax, rapeseed, cotton, barley, wheat, vegetables, etc.).

PO-Plant facilities and Phenoscope:
15 fully automated growth chambers (2007)
culture rooms and greenhouses in quarantine and biosafety S3 level (2007)
4 phenotyping robots (2010-2014)

PO-Analyzes (Cytology / Imaging; Chemistry / Metabolism; Biochemistry):
LEICA SP2 (2004), ZEISS 710 (2009), LEICA SP5 (2012), SP8 (2016)
confocal microscopes scanning electron microscope (2007)
flow cytometer
ZEISS apotome microscope, axiozoom (2008-2018)
rotating disc microscope (2009)
laser micro-dissector
in situ hybridization robot and slide scanner (2011)
5 microtomes (3 automatic, one ultramicrotome), one cryostat
1 coating station
Monolith NanoTemper (thermophoresis, 2015)
uHPLC-MS / MS Waters (2011)
MALDI-TOF Bruker (2001)
3 Agilent GC-MS (2010-2015)
NMR 400 MHz (2014)
LC-HRMS (QTOF) Bruker (2015)  

Biological resources:
The PO-VASC provides seeds useful to the international research community. The seed stocks available for distribution include:
> 54915 characterized T-DNA insertion lines (Ws ecotype)
> more than 600 natural accessions (ecotypes)
> 262 F2 cartographic populations
> 16 populations of recombinant lines (RIL)
> 3 sets of almost isogenic lines (HIF: heterogeneous family)
> a panel of epigenetic recombinant hybrid lines (epiRIL)
> 56 cytolines
> a collection of homozygous EMS mutant lines (HEM)
> 800 families with natural French accessions  

Societal and economical impacts

The PO hosts many projects and requests for services from private partners. We have set up a common access point for all facilities ( for industrial and academic users. A full cost calculation will be initiated and applied with our price lists.
The lines of VASC are available at:
Plant imaging on the PO-Cytology/Imaging platform
Arabidopsis cultures in a greenhouse High-throughput phenotyping on the PO-Phenoscope platform
Plant Observatory (PO) head :

Jean-Christophe Palauqui

Website of the Plant Observatory