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Scientists Develop AI-Based Platform for Stomatal Phenotyping

Researchers created a novel AI analysis technique that allows live imaging and concurrent analysis of wheat stomata.

Scientists Develop AI-Based Platform for Stomatal Phenotyping

Image Credit: Barbol

The openings on the surface of a plant’s leaves — stomata — are vital for controlling the exchange of gases between the plant and the atmosphere. Stomata with the appropriate characteristics can boost a plant’s resistance and adaptability to challenging conditions like drought, which is a specific desirable characteristic with the prospect of climate change looming.

Selective plant breeding and genetic analysis are two techniques through which plants’ characteristics can be altered as per their environment; however, to achieve these processes, it is essential to find out specimens with the required stomatal characteristics. When compared to bigger parts of plants like seeds or leaves, stomata must be analyzed under a microscope, which is extremely time-consuming when carried out by hand.

Researchers from the Yokohama City University Kihara Institute for Biological Research and Nagoya University Institute of Transformative Bio-molecules (WPI-ITbM) created a novel AI analysis technique that facilitates live imaging and concurrent analysis of wheat stomata.

With a dedicated processing unit that examines the stomata as they pass under the microscope, this novel system eliminates the earlier greatest obstacle to fast analysis — the necessity to store and process images through a separate computer system or server, which is costly and time-consuming. The system developed is affordable and can be operated through equipment found in most modern imaging labs.

The main application of this system is to find plant specimens with desirable characteristics and utilizing them to make crops, both through genome analysis and selective breeding, which would be better resistant to environmental stressors, like drought, in a future where climate change might overtake plants’ capability to evolve resistance naturally.

As the development of the system advances, it should be possible to apply the system to other areas of plants whose characteristics’ visual analysis may prove beneficial.

It is anticipated that the development of this system is a major step toward avoiding future food shortages and assuring that individuals in areas susceptible to climate change are not left without viable crops.

Journal Reference:

Toda, Y., et al. (2021) An Affordable Image-Analysis Platform to Accelerate Stomatal Phenotyping During Microscopic Observation. Frontiers in Plant Science.


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