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Plants 2017, 6(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants6040046

Image-Based Analysis to Dissect Vertical Distribution and Horizontal Asymmetry of Conspecific Root System Interactions in Response to Planting Densities, Nutrients and Root Exudates in Arabidopsis thaliana

1
Department of Plant Biology, Mailcode 6509, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
2
Department of Computer Science, Mailcode 4511, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
3
Program of Environmental Resources & Policy, Mailcode 4637, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
4
Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
5
Center for Ecology, Mailcode 6504, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
6
Institute of Biomedical Informatics & Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 August 2017 / Revised: 17 September 2017 / Accepted: 5 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract

Intraspecific competition is an important plant interaction that has been studied extensively aboveground, but less so belowground, due to the difficulties in accessing the root system experimentally. Recent in vivo and in situ automatic imaging advances help understand root system architecture. In this study, a portable imaging platform and a scalable transplant technique were applied to test intraspecific competition in Arabidopsis thaliana. A single green fluorescent protein labeled plant was placed in the center of a grid of different planting densities of neighboring unlabeled plants or empty spaces, into which different treatments were made to the media. The root system of the central plant showed changes in the vertical distribution with increasing neighbor density, becoming more positively kurtotic, and developing an increasing negative skew with time. Horizontal root distribution was initially asymmetric, but became more evenly circular with time, and mean direction was not affected by the presence of adjacent empty spaces as initially hypothesized. To date, this is the first study to analyze the patterns of both vertical and horizontal growth in conspecific root systems. We present a portable imaging platform with simplicity, accessibility, and scalability, to capture the dynamic interactions of plant root systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; conspecific root; imaging; root system; skewness and kurtosis Arabidopsis thaliana; conspecific root; imaging; root system; skewness and kurtosis
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Geisler-Lee, J.; Liu, X.; Rang, W.; Raveendiran, J.; Szubryt, M.B.; Gibson, D.J.; Geisler, M.; Cheng, Q. Image-Based Analysis to Dissect Vertical Distribution and Horizontal Asymmetry of Conspecific Root System Interactions in Response to Planting Densities, Nutrients and Root Exudates in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plants 2017, 6, 46.

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