Easy Leaf Area software calculates leaf area from digital images
Leaf measurements are often critical in plant physiological and ecological studies, but traditional methods have been time consuming and sometimes destructive to plant samples. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed Easy Leaf Area—a free software written in an open-source programming language—to allow users to accurately measure leaf area from digital images in seconds.
"It has always been a challenge to measure leaf surface area without damaging the plants or spending long hours in the lab, so I decided to attempt to write software to automatically measure leaf and scale area from smartphone images," explains Hsien Ming Easlon, a researcher at UC Davis and one of the developers of Easy Leaf Area. "Leaf area measurements are essential for estimating crop yields, water usage, nutrient absorption, plant competition, and many other aspects of growth."
The digital images he uses are taken with the Apple IPhone 4, but any current smartphone camera or digital camera will do. Once the images are uploaded to a computer, Easy Leaf Area can process hundreds of images and save the results to a spreadsheet-ready CSV file. The Windows executable software is free to download and can be modified to suit specific experimental requirements. A full report including links to additional resources is available in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences.
Easlon recalls, "Our lab started using digital cameras when I was a graduate student. We figured out how to use Photoshop to measure areas in digital images, but this method still required one to five minutes of human input per image."
Five minutes per image may not seem like a long time, but multiply that by hundreds of plants—a normal sample size—and those minutes add up fast. By automating data analysis, researchers can save countless hours of manual labor, improve the accuracy and consistency of their results, and reduce potential damages to their plant samples.
Easlon and his team developed Easy Leaf Area using Arabidopsis plants, and also tested Easy Leaf Area on photographs of field-grown tomatoes and wheat, and photographs and scans of detached leaves of a common tree poppy, California redwood, chaparral currant, Jeffrey pine, and Valley oak. Manual adjustments to the automatic algorithm can be saved for different plants and field conditions, making this a practical tool for researchers in many plant science fields.
Easlon's next step is to develop a mobile version so that leaf area measurements can be made on the fly without a PC. He also plans to add handwriting recognition or barcode reading to the software. This will automatically interpret labeled plant stakes and assign the proper file names to each image.
"Most researchers don't have the time or knowledge to develop software for themselves, so scientific use of smartphones is primarily limited to built-in features. The processing power, connectivity, built-in sensors, storage capacity, and low price give smartphones great potential to replace many single-purpose devices for scientific data collection," explains Easlon.
Calculating plant surface area could soon be as easy as using Instagram.
Hsien Ming Easlon and Arnold J. Bloom. 2014. Easy Leaf Area: Automated digital image analysis for rapid and accurate measurement of leaf area. Applications in Plant Sciences 2(7): 1400033. doi:10.3732/apps.1400033
Applications in Plant Sciences (APPS) is a monthly, peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on new tools, technologies, and protocols in all areas of the plant sciences. It is published by the Botanical Society of America, a nonprofit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. APPS is available as part of BioOne's Open Access collection .
For further information, please contact the APPS staff at email@example.com.
Beth Parada | Eurek Alert!
Smarter robot vacuum cleaners for automated office cleaning
15.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Researchers 3-D print first truly microfluidic 'lab on a chipl devices
15.08.2017 | Brigham Young University
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research