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31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Phenobois : Phenotyping of the physico-chemical properties of wood and the hydraulic properties of trees

Plateform name
Phénobois Plateform
Orléans: 2163, avenue de la pomme de pin - CS 40001 Ardon- 45075 ORLEANS
Bordeaux-Cestas: 69, route d'Arcachon 33610 CESTAS
Bordeaux-Pessac: Université Bordeaux 1Bâtiment B2 - RdC Est - Allée Geoffroy St-Hilaire - CS 50023 - 33615 PESSAC
Clermont-Crouël: 5, chemin de Beaulieu 63000 CLERMONT-FERRAND


Plateform description

The Phenobois platform brings together several laboratories and workshops supported by the INRAE BioForA Units of the Centre Val de Loire (Orléans site), BioGéCo of the Centre Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Bordeaux (Cestas and Pessac sites) and PIAF of the Centre Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Clermont-Crouël site).

Phenobois is a high speed platform for assessing wood properties and hydraulic functioning of plant xylem in studies on i) the influence of genetic improvement on productivity, wood quality of forest trees and forest resilience ii) the influence of global changes on tree survival and productivity, as well as on the functioning of forest ecosystems.

Phenobois aims are:

  • To provide research and industry with a common platform to characterize wood and understand the biological and ecological processes involved in wood development.
  • To understand the environmental and genetic determinants of the variability of wood properties in plantation forests and forests with low anthropogenicity.
  • To identify the mechanisms involved in the adaptation and response of trees to water stress.
  • Provide phenotyping tools to identify new genotypes that perform well in silviculture in terms of productivity, resistance to abiotic stress and resilience.
Services offer

Phenobois offers a variety of measures for direct or indirect assessment of phenotypic parameters related to the physico-chemical properties of wood and the hydraulic properties of trees:

  • Analysis of the chemical composition of wood: polyphenols, cellulose, lignins, hemicelluloses, ashes, soluble and structural sugars.
  • Biomass quality assessment: saccharification potential
  • X-ray microdensitometry: density variations within growth rings
  • Physical and mechanical measurements: density, shrinkage, stiffness, colour
  • Micro and macroscopic studies of wood tissue
  • X-ray microtomography: 3D structure and operation of the vascular apparatus
  • Cavitation Vulnerability Study
  • In vivo observation of embolism
  • Indirect assessment of the chemical composition of wood by near-infrared spectrometry

The platform also has partially automated lines for processing plant samples (sawing, grinding, distribution), making it possible to achieve a high throughput of analysis, which varies according to the technology used: a hundred to several tens of thousands of samples can be processed each year.

Over the last four years, more than 10 French research units and 30 international universities and institutes have used our various facilities to characterize the properties of wood and the plant's resistance to drought.


16 permanent staff, spread over the 4 sites of the platform, ensure quality technological expertise and participate in user training.

Work description and access modalities

All projects submitted to the platform are examined by the Management Committee and requests are redirected to the Local Correspondents according to the technologies to be implemented. The requests are evaluated according to the scientific interest with regard to the platform's missions, the technical feasibility and the burden borne by the service (availability of staff, equipment, premises). Each user will receive an opinion from the Steering Committee or Local Correspondents on the project, accompanied by an estimate of the cost and the time required to complete the project if it is admissible. The Management Committee may propose, if necessary, collaboration or thematic reorientations. The project may be rejected in the event of a conflict of interest, an ethical problem, or if it appears to be in breach of the law.

For any admissible project, Phenobois undertakes to ensure the availability of trained and competent personnel, to propose high-performance and well-maintained equipment, to provide technical assistance or even scientific expertise, to carry out analyses or to train users in carrying them out, to provide information on the progress of the project and to accompany users in the use of their data.

Applicants will be guided by qualified technicians and engineers who will train them in the use of the equipment, in the implementation of protocols specific to the various techniques, in compliance with the safety rules in force in the laboratories. The PhenoBois platform is implementing a quality management system (QMS), ensuring complete traceability of projects, samples and experiments, for quality results.

Applicants will benefit from the support of researchers from the proximity units specialised in the platform's fields of study to help them interpret their data acquired during the stay, prepare the drafting of publications or develop new collaborations.

Access unit and cost

The access unit is defined as one day. A typical access consists of a stay of 5 to 10 days (2 weeks) depending on the technology(ies) implemented. The number of samples processed during a typical stay can be respectively 100 samples for microdensitometry, 150 for the determination of saccharification potential, 120 for chemical analyses associated or not with the establishment of a NIRS calibration model, 100 for the measurement of cavitation resistance, 8 for optical technique and microtomography.

The residence time may be longer in the case of major methodological developments.

The cost of an access unit for public institutions, excluding the applicant's travel expenses, is 370 euros per day (i.e. 1850 € per week).

The cost of an access unit for private institutions, excluding the applicant's travel expenses, will also include the salaries of the platform staff involved in the technologies implemented during the stay (1260 € on average for a technician's working week and 2100 € on average for a research engineer's working week).


Phenobois provides the scientific community with a wide range of cutting-edge equipment as well as innovative and sometimes unique prototype equipment (Cavi1000 for example). The following table presents the main instruments made available for experiments.

Equipement GénoBois