Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making plants' inner qualities visible

Date:
September 3, 2013
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Not only psychologists would be happy to be able to look inside their patients’ heads – a plant’s “inner qualities” also supply plant researchers with valuable information. A special camera analyzes the constituents of grapevines, corn and other plants.

The hyperspectral camera is mounted under the wing of the airplane used for research.
Credit: Fraunhofer IFF

Not only psychologists would be happy to be able to look inside their patients' heads -- a plant's "inner qualities" also supply plant researchers with valuable information. A special camera analyzes the constituents of grapevines, corn and other plants.

A photographic airplane circles above an Australian vineyard in large arcs. An onboard camera takes pictures of the grapevines in regular intervals -- anything but ordinary photos, though. Instead, this camera "looks" directly inside plants and delivers valuable information on their constituents to viticulturists. This enables viticulturists to systematically modify their cultivation in order to increase the yield of their grapevines by using hybrids with valuable properties -- a real challenge under the basic conditions in Australia: The soil is dry and salty and summer temperatures are often extremely high.

This look at a grapevine's "inner qualities" is made possible by special software that processes data from a hyperspectral camera, which records images of many adjacent wavelengths. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg developed the software and the mathematical models it contains. "Every molecule absorbs light in a very specific wavelength range," explains project manager Prof. Udo Seiffert. "The camera chip we use covers a large area of the relevant wavelength spectrum and, together with appropriate software, is able to scan the biochemical composition of every single recorded pixel precisely." The camera thus delivers an overview of every constituent present in a plant in any significant concentration -- a kind of hyperspectral "fingerprint."

A camera delivers an overview of phytoconstituents

The raw data have to be processed appropriately in order to make them usable for clients. "Our data processing is based on mathematical modeling. On the basis of these algorithms, the software recognizes characteristic absorption properties of defined target constituents and filters them out of the raw data," explains Seiffert. Initially, the researchers have to calibrate the software for the particular application so that it "knows" what constituents it should display. To do so, they photograph reference plants with their camera in order to obtain the fingerprint of the constituents. Then, the photographed tops of the plants are sent to a laboratory in order to analyze the concentrations of the constituents that are relevant to the user. Afterward, the laboratory results are entered into the mathematical model together with the hyperspectral fingerprint. The special thing about the software is its ability to correlate information autonomously and to save this knowledge. "Picture it somewhat like learning vocabulary," explains Seiffert. Once the software has learned the correlation, it automatically filters the relevant constituents out of the hyperspectral camera images the next time. Then, a laboratory analysis is no longer needed for other series of measurements.

Looking inside plants creates effective new options for farmers to increase crop yield. For instance, certain metabolites -- products of metabolism -- provide information on the quality of a plant's nutrition. Farmers can concentrate on cultivating those plants that thrive particularly well under the prevalent climatic conditions, thus enabling them to irrigate their fields less, for instance. Diseases such as fungal infections can also be detected faster thanks to hyperspectral technology. An infested plant activates defense mechanisms before an infection becomes outwardly visible -- by dead leaves, stalks or mildew. Theses mechanisms indicate that the plant has detected and is combatting the infection. Previously, such tests required lengthy experiments in greenhouses. Not least, aerial photos can be used to detect sources of infection in a field quickly.

The first series of measurements with the project partner, the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility at the University of Adelaide, have concluded -- the results are promising. At present, another use of the camera down under is in the planning stage. A demonstrator of the system's use in greenhouses and laboratories will be on display at Booth E72 in Hall 9 at the BIOTECHNICA in Hannover from October 8 to 10, 2013.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Making plants' inner qualities visible." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123141.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2013, September 3). Making plants' inner qualities visible. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123141.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Making plants' inner qualities visible." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123141.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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