Novel scanning procedure enabling the vectorization of entire rhizotron-grown root systems

Plant Methods. 2013 Jan 4;9(1):1. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-9-1.


: This paper presents an original spit-and-combine imaging procedure that enables the complete vectorization of complex root systems grown in rhizotrons. The general principle of the method is to (1) separate the root system into a small number of large pieces to reduce root overlap, (2) scan these pieces one by one, (3) analyze separate images with a root tracing software and (4) combine all tracings into a single vectorized root system. This method generates a rich dataset containing morphological, topological and geometrical information of entire root systems grown in rhizotrons. The utility of the method is illustrated with a detailed architectural analysis of a 20-day old maize root system, coupled with a spatial analysis of water uptake patterns.