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Plant Physiol. 2011 Jun;156(2):455-65. doi: 10.1104/pp.110.169102. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Three-dimensional root phenotyping with a novel imaging and software platform.

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Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Robert W Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


A novel imaging and software platform was developed for the high-throughput phenotyping of three-dimensional root traits during seedling development. To demonstrate the platform's capacity, plants of two rice (Oryza sativa) genotypes, Azucena and IR64, were grown in a transparent gellan gum system and imaged daily for 10 d. Rotational image sequences consisting of 40 two-dimensional images were captured using an optically corrected digital imaging system. Three-dimensional root reconstructions were generated and analyzed using a custom-designed software, RootReader3D. Using the automated and interactive capabilities of RootReader3D, five rice root types were classified and 27 phenotypic root traits were measured to characterize these two genotypes. Where possible, measurements from the three-dimensional platform were validated and were highly correlated with conventional two-dimensional measurements. When comparing gellan gum-grown plants with those grown under hydroponic and sand culture, significant differences were detected in morphological root traits (P < 0.05). This highly flexible platform provides the capacity to measure root traits with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution and will facilitate novel investigations into the development of entire root systems or selected components of root systems. In combination with the extensive genetic resources that are now available, this platform will be a powerful resource to further explore the molecular and genetic determinants of root system architecture.

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