Robots: Humans' Dependable Helpers

Research and Development in Robotic Systems

Automated Industrial Plant Breeding in the Temporary Immersion System (AutoTIS)

© Fraunhofer IFF

Plants are starting products for many medicines, cosmetics and wellness products. Traditionally, they are produced in fields or greenhouses, yet many exotic plants and wild domestic plants are difficult to cultivate in field farming.

One solution is the in vitro production of plants in bioreactors. The classic method is in vitro culture on agar, which however cannot be optimized either for a large yield of biomass or for low-handling, automatable processes. Too few or the wrong substances are often produced under these conditions. In short, commercial bioreactors produce plants, the extracts of which cannot be commercially utilized in many cases.


The objective of this project was to automate a novel culture system for plants that is based on the “temporary immersion system” (TIS). It breeds entire plants and plant organs under sterile conditions. Easy handling und control of the novel automatic breeding modules is intended to cut production costs and further raise production certainty. Breeding conditions are recorded in a database. As a result, this technology can be used industrially for pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and conventional plant breeding.

The project partner BioPlanta GmbH in Leipzig collaborated on the development work.

The project was supported by and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF as part of its support action "Innovations as the Key to Sustainability in the Economy" and overseen by the German Aerospace Center DLR. The project received the 2009 IQ Central German Innovation Award in the biotechnology/life sciences category.