Recovering the dynamics of root growth and development using novel image acquisition and analysis methods

Darren M. Wells*, Andrew P. French*, Asad Naeem*, Omer Ishaq*, Richard Traini, Hussein Hijazi, Malcolm J. Bennett & Tony P. Pridmore

Roots are highly responsive to environmental signals encountered in the rhizosphere, such as nutrients, mechanical resistance and gravity. As a result, root growth and development is very plastic. If this complex and vital process is to be understood, methods and tools are required to capture the dynamics of root responses. Tools are needed which are high-throughput, supporting large-scale experimental work, and provide accurate, high-resolution, quantitative data. We describe and demonstrate the efficacy of the high-throughput and high-resolution root imaging systems recently developed within the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB). This toolset includes (i) robotic imaging hardware to generate time-lapse datasets from standard cameras under infrared illumination and (ii) automated image analysis methods and software to extract quantitative information about root growth and development both from these images and via high-resolution light microscopy. These methods are demonstrated using data gathered during an experimental study of the gravitropic response of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 367 (1595), 1517-1524