Hyperspectral phenotyping on the microscopic scale: towards automated characterization of plant-pathogen interactions

Plant Methods. 2015 Apr 15;11:28. doi: 10.1186/s13007-015-0073-7. eCollection 2015.


Background: The detection and characterization of resistance reactions of crop plants against fungal pathogens are essential to select resistant genotypes. In breeding practice phenotyping of plant genotypes is realized by time consuming and expensive visual rating. In this context hyperspectral imaging (HSI) is a promising non-invasive sensor technique in order to accelerate and to automate classical phenotyping methods. A hyperspectral microscope was established to determine spectral changes on the leaf and cellular level of barley (Hordeum vulgare) during resistance reactions against powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei, isolate K1). Experiments were conducted with near isogenic barley lines of cv. Ingrid, including the susceptible wild type (WT), mildew locus a 12 (Mla12 based resistance) and the resistant mildew locus o 3 (mlo3 based resistance), respectively. The reflection of inoculated and non-inoculated leaves was recorded daily with a hyperspectral linescanner in the visual (400 - 700 nm) and near infrared (700 - 1000 nm) range 3 to 14 days after inoculation.

Results: Data analysis showed no significant differences in spectral signatures between non-inoculated genotypes. Barley leaves of the near-isogenic genotypes, inoculated with B. graminis f.sp. hordei differed in the spectral reflectance over time, respectively. The susceptible genotypes (WT, Mla12) showed an increase in reflectance in the visible range according to symptom development. However, the spectral signature of the resistant mlo-genotype did not show significant changes over the experimental period. In addition, a recent data driven approach for automated discovery of disease specific signatures, which is based on a new representation of the data using Simplex Volume Maximization (SiVM) was applied. The automated approach - evaluated in only a fraction of time revealed results similar to the time and labor intensive manually assessed hyperspectral signatures. The new representation determined by SiVM was also used to generate intuitive and easy to interpretable summaries, e.g. fingerprints or traces of hyperspectral dynamics of the different genotypes.

Conclusion: With this HSI based and data driven phenotyping approach an evaluation of host-pathogen interactions over time and a discrimination of barley genotypes differing in susceptibility to powdery mildew is possible.

Keywords: Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei; Disease resistance; Hordeum vulgare; Hyperspectral imaging; Hyperspectral microscope; Mildew locus o (Mlo); Near-isogenic lines; Plant disease; Spectral reflectance.