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!
Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize
19.11.2018 | University of Tokyo
Putting food-safety detection in the hands of consumers
15.11.2018 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy