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Last update: May 2021

Menu Institutions

SPS - Saclay Plant Sciences

Growing plants at the Jean-Pierre Bourgin Institute

Cutting-edge infrastructures and greenhouse managers to assist researchers

The Saclay Plant Sciences Laboratory of Excellence comprises over 6400 m² of greenhouses and approximately 1900 m² of controlled growth chambers dedicated to plant culture for scientific experimentation. These facilities have S2 and S3 biosafety levels.

The Jean-Pierre Bourgin Institute, located at the INRA research centre of Versailles-Grignon, accounts for about 5500 m2 of these greenhouses and 820 m2 of the growth chambers. These culture facilities are included in the Plant Observatory.

Les serres de l'Observatoire du Végétal : toute une culture ... from Labex SPS on Vimeo.

(Video in french)

The INRA Versailles-Grignon research center is one of the oldest agricultural research centers in France. The first greenhouses were built in the early 20th century and most of the facilities have been set up between 1960 and 2000 and are renewed regularly.

One of the latest facilities allows experiments to be carried out at a S3 biosafety level, which is the highest level for plants. It includes several growth chambers and greenhouses built between 2005 and 2006. This access-regulated platform benefits from advanced equipment that can accommodate experiments on pathogens and quarantine crops with a high level of confinement. In the quarantine greenhouses, plants can be inoculated with pathogenic agents and pathogen multiplication and plant response to infection studied. Research on pathogens can help us find ways to fight against these infectious organisms and different modes of culture can be tested that might allow plants to resist against them.

Being in charge of a plant growth platform, a high-precision job

Plants grown in these facilities are mainly Arabidopsis thaliana and Brachypodium dystachyon, two model species commonly used in basic research. But we can also grow and experiment on many crop species such as tomato, wheat, corn, rapeseed, etc.

Growth chambers are used to maintain precise, stable and repeatable environments. Different parameters can be controlled: temperature, humidity, length of day and light intensity. Greenhouse managers are in charge of these plant growth areas, managing the different plant species, taking care of the plants and controlling the environmental parameters. Their role is to prepare and follow each plant culture according to the experimenters’ requirements, and to adapt the protocols defined internally and according to the quality procedures of the Institute. They plan experimentations, and bring their technical expertise to enforce safety rules and to give advice. The greenhouse managers also prepare potting, seedlings and perform operations such as watering, and phytosanitary treatments. They use Integrated Pest Management as much as possible in order to limit the application of pesticides and to use them in the most rational way.

Access the plant growing services of the Plant Observatory

The platform is available to the both scientific and industrial communities through defined services.

To access and use the facility, please contact the platform manager through the dedicated form available on the Plant Observatory website: