Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants

Date:
February 17, 2012
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Plant and computer scientists can now study the underground world of plants with more accuracy and clarity. The revolutionary technique will improve our chances of breeding better crop varieties and increasing yields.

Plant and computer scientists can now study the underground world of plants with more accuracy and clarity. The revolutionary technique will improve our chances of breeding better crop varieties and increasing yields.
Credit: NatUlrich / Fotolia

Plant and computer scientists can now study the underground world of plants with more accuracy and clarity. The revolutionary technique will improve our chances of breeding better crop varieties and increasing yields.

Developed at The University of Nottingham by a team of experts from the Schools of Biosciences and Computer Science, the new approach is based on the same X-ray technology used in hospital CT scans and incorporates new image analysis software which, for the first time, can automatically distinguish plant roots from the other materials found in soil.

The results of this research, which has already been demonstrated on the roots of maize, wheat and tomato, have been published in the international scientific journal Plant Physiology.

The interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB) used X-ray Micro Computed Tomography (Micro-CT) to look at the shape and branching pattern -- the architecture -- of roots in soil. The data was then fed into the new RooTrak software which overcomes the problem of distinguishing between roots and other elements of the soil.

Breakthrough for food security

Dr Sacha Mooney, an expert in soil physics in the School of Biosciences, said: "This technique is a hugely important advance. The application of X-ray CT for visualising roots has been limited because we simply couldn't see a large portion of the root structure. RooTrak has enabled us to overcome this and has opened up the use of the technology for exploring the key questions regarding how we can manipulate plants and soils for improving our food security."

The RooTrak software works by taking a stack of virtual slices through the root-bearing soil. It treats each slice as a frame in a movie, so that static roots in each slice are treated as moving objects which can be tracked. This allows the software to differentiate between root and water or organic elements in the soil much more effectively than previous techniques. The detailed accurate root architecture can then be seen in three dimensions.

Tony Pridmore, Data Director at CPIB and an expert in tracking and analysis software, said: "Thinking of Micro-CT data as a sequence of images allows us to solve the problems caused by variations in the appearance of plant roots and the similarity of some roots to the surrounding soil. This is important because we can now extract descriptions of root architecture quickly and objectively."

Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Plant Sciences and an expert in root biology, said: "Root architecture critically influences nutrient and water uptake. A key impediment to genetic analysis of root architecture in crops grown in soil has been the ability to image live roots. Recent advances in microscale X-ray Computed Tomography (MicroCT) and RooTrak software at Nottingham now make this possible.

The team has just been awarded a €3.5m (nearly 3m) five year European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant to use this new software in conjunction with an innovative microCT-based imaging approach to image wheat roots and select for new varieties with improved water and nutrient uptake efficiencies.

This ambitious project will be undertaken by a multidisciplinary team of scientists in the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB) led by Professor Bennett. To undertake this research project help from collaborators across Europe, Mexico and Australia is also required to ensure that the most advanced techniques and biological resources are exploited to radically impact efforts to improve crop performance.

The CPIB is funded by the Systems Biology joint initiative of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The research was led by PhD student Stefan Mairhofer, with funding from The University of Nottingham's Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre in Integrative Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stefan Mairhofer, Susan Zappala, Saoirse R. Tracy, Craig Sturrock, Malcolm Bennett, Sacha J. Mooney And Tony Pridmore. RooTrak: Automated Recovery of Three-Dimensional Plant Root Architecture in Soil from X-Ray Microcomputed Tomography Images Using Visual Tracking. Plant Physiology, 2012 DOI: 10.%u200B1104/%u200Bpp.%u200B111.%u200B186221

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120217115547.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2012, February 17). Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120217115547.htm
University of Nottingham. "Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120217115547.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins