X-ray absorption and phase contrast imaging to study the interplay between plant roots and soil structure

Moran, CJ, Pierret, A and Stevenson, AW (2000) X-ray absorption and phase contrast imaging to study the interplay between plant roots and soil structure. Plant And Soil, 223 1-2: 99-115.

Author Moran, CJ
Pierret, A
Stevenson, AW
Title X-ray absorption and phase contrast imaging to study the interplay between plant roots and soil structure
Journal name Plant And Soil   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0032-079X
Publication date 2000-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 223
Issue 1-2
Start page 99
End page 115
Total pages 17
Language eng
Abstract Plant performance is, at least partly, linked to the location of roots with respect to soil structure features and the micro-environment surrounding roots. Measurements of root distributions from intact samples, using optical microscopy and field tracings have been partially successful but are imprecise and labour-intensive. Theoretically, X-ray computed micro-tomography represents an ideal solution for non-invasive imaging of plant roots and soil structure. However, before it becomes fast enough and affordable or easily accessible, there is still a need for a diagnostic tool to investigate root/soil interplay. Here, a method for detection of undisturbed plant roots and their immediate physical environment is presented. X-ray absorption and phase contrast imaging are combined to produce projection images of soil sections from which root distributions and soil structure can be analyzed. The clarity of roots on the X-ray film is sufficient to allow manual tracing on an acetate sheet fixed over the film. In its current version, the method suffers limitations mainly related to (i) the degree of subjectivity associated with manual tracing and (ii) the difficulty of separating live and dead roots. The method represents a simple and relatively inexpensive way to detect and quantify roots from intact samples and has scope for further improvements. In this paper, the main steps of the method, sampling, image acquisition and image processing are documented. The potential use of the method in an agronomic perspective is illustrated using surface and sub-surface soil samples from a controlled wheat trial. Quantitative characterization of root attributes, e.g. radius, length density, branching intensity and the complex interplay between roots and soil structure, is presented and discussed.
Keyword Agronomy
Plant Sciences
Agriculture, Soil Science
Image Quantification
Root Detection
Soil Structure
Soil/root Interactions
Undisturbed Samples
X-ray Phase-contrast Imaging
Spatial Variability
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Sustainable Minerals Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 13 Aug 2007, 21:56:12 EST