Measuring root system traits of wheat in 2D images to parameterize 3D root architecture models

Magdalena Landl (Lead / Corresponding author), Andrea Schnepf, Jan Vanderborght, Anthony Bengough, Sara L. Bauke, Guillaume Lobet, Roland Bol, Harry Vereecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Background and aims The main difficulty in the use of 3D root architecture models is correct parameterization. We evaluated distributions of the root traits inter-branch distance, branching angle and axial root trajectories from contrasting experimental systems to improve model parameterization. Methods We analyzed 2D root images of different wheat varieties (Triticum Aestivum) from three different sources using automatic root tracking. Model input parameters and common parameter patterns were identified from extracted root system coordinates. Simulation studies were used to (1) link observed axial root trajectories with model input parameters (2) evaluate errors due to the 2D (versus 3D) nature of image sources and (3) investigate the effect of model parameter distributions on root foraging performance. Results Distributions of inter-branch distances were approximated with lognormal functions. Branching angles showed mean values <90°. Gravitropism and tortuosity parameters were quantified in relation to downwards reorientation and segment angles of root axes. Root system projection in 2D increased the variance of branching angles. Root foraging performance was very sensitive to parameter distribution and variance. Conclusions 2D image analysis can systematically and efficiently analyze root system architectures and parameterize 3D root architecture models. Effects of root system projection (2D from 3D) and deflection (at rhizotron face) on size and distribution of particular parameters are potentially significant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-477
Number of pages21
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date22 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Axial root trajectories
  • Branching angle
  • Foraging performance
  • Inter-branch distance
  • Model parameterization
  • Root system architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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