Rapid determination of leaf area and plant height by using light curtain arrays in four species with contrasting shoot architecture

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Abstract

Background: Light curtain arrays (LC), a recently introduced phenotyping method, yield a binary data matrix from which a shoot silhouette is reconstructed. We addressed the accuracy and applicability of LC in assessing leaf area and maximum height (base to the highest leaf tip) in a phenotyping platform. LC were integrated to an automated routine for positioning, allowing in situ measurements. Two dicotyledonous (rapeseed, tomato) and two monocotyledonous (maize, barley) species with contrasting shoot architecture were investigated. To evaluate if averaging multiple view angles helps in resolving self-overlaps, we acquired a data set by rotating plants every 10° for 170°. To test how rapid these measurements can be without loss of information, we evaluated nine scanning speeds. Leaf area of overlapping plants was also estimated to assess the possibility to scale this method for plant stands.Results: The relation between measured and calculated maximum height was linear and nearly the same for all species. Linear relations were also found between plant leaf area and calculated pixel area. However, the regression slope was different between monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous species. Increasing the scanning speed stepwise from 0.9 to 23.4 m s-1 did not affect the estimation of maximum height. Instead, the calculated pixel area was inversely proportional to scanning speed. The estimation of plant leaf area by means of calculated pixel area became more accurate by averaging consecutive silhouettes and/or increasing the angle between them. Simulations showed that decreasing plant distance gradually from 20 to 0 cm, led to underestimation of plant leaf area owing to overlaps. This underestimation was more important for large plants of dicotyledonous species and for small plants of monocotyledonous ones.Conclusions: LC offer an accurate estimation of plant leaf area and maximum height, while the number of consecutive silhouettes that needs to be averaged is species-dependent. A constant scanning speed is important for leaf area estimations by using LC. Simulations of the effect of varying plant spacing gave promising results for method application in sets of partly overlapping plants, which applies also to field conditions during and after canopy closure for crops sown in rows. © 2014 Fanourakis et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Fanourakis, D., Briese, C., Max, J. F. J., Kleinen, S., Putz, A., Fiorani, F., … Schurr, U. (2014). Rapid determination of leaf area and plant height by using light curtain arrays in four species with contrasting shoot architecture. Plant Methods, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4811-10-9

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