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Extracting multiple interacting root systems using X-ray microcomputed tomography.


ABSTRACT: Root system interactions and competition for resources are active areas of research that contribute to our understanding of how roots perceive and react to environmental conditions. Recent research has shown this complex suite of processes can now be observed in a natural environment (i.e. soil) through the use of X-ray microcomputed tomography (?CT), which allows non-destructive analysis of plant root systems. Due to their similar X-ray attenuation coefficients and densities, the roots of different plants appear as similar greyscale intensity values in ?CT image data. Unless they are manually and carefully traced, it has not previously been possible to automatically label and separate different root systems grown in the same soil environment. We present a technique, based on a visual tracking approach, which exploits knowledge of the shape of root cross-sections to automatically recover from X-ray ?CT data three-dimensional descriptions of multiple, interacting root architectures growing in soil. The method was evaluated on both simulated root data and real images of two interacting winter wheat Cordiale (Triticumaestivum L.) plants grown in a single soil column, demonstrating that it is possible to automatically segment different root systems from within the same soil sample. This work supports the automatic exploration of supportive and competitive foraging behaviour of plant root systems in natural soil environments.

SUBMITTER: Mairhofer S 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4949686 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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