Peering into plant roots for better crops

February 19th, 2012 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 19 (IANS) A revolutionary technique will not only peer into plant roots with greater accuracy and clarity, but will also improve the chances of breeding better crop varieties and increasing yields.

Developed by a team from Nottingham University School of Biosciences, the new approach is based on X-ray technology used in hospital CT scans.

Sacha Mooney, soil physicist at the Nottingham School of Biosciences, said: “This technique is a hugely important advance. The application of CT for visualising roots has been limited because we simply could not see a large portion of the root structure.”

A new software built into the technique can distinguish plant roots from the soil itself and other materials there, focusing only on analysing plant roots, the journal Plant Physiology reports.

The results of this research have already been demonstrated on the roots of maize, wheat and tomato, according to a Nottingham statement.

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