Receive a weekly summary and discussion of the top papers of the week by leading researchers in the field.

In Frontiers in plant science

X-ray micro-computed tomography (X-ray μCT) has enabled the characterization of the properties and processes that take place in plants and soils at the micron scale. Despite the widespread use of this advanced technique, major limitations in both hardware and software limit the speed and accuracy of image processing and data analysis. Recent advances in machine learning, specifically the application of convolutional neural networks to image analysis, have enabled rapid and accurate segmentation of image data. Yet, challenges remain in applying convolutional neural networks to the analysis of environmentally and agriculturally relevant images. Specifically, there is a disconnect between the computer scientists and engineers, who build these AI/ML tools, and the potential end users in agricultural research, who may be unsure of how to apply these tools in their work. Additionally, the computing resources required for training and applying deep learning models are unique, more common to computer gaming systems or graphics design work, than to traditional computational systems. To navigate these challenges, we developed a modular workflow for applying convolutional neural networks to X-ray μCT images, using low-cost resources in Google's Colaboratory web application. Here we present the results of the workflow, illustrating how parameters can be optimized to achieve best results using example scans from walnut leaves, almond flower buds, and a soil aggregate. We expect that this framework will accelerate the adoption and use of emerging deep learning techniques within the plant and soil sciences.

Rippner Devin A, Raja Pranav V, Earles J Mason, Momayyezi Mina, Buchko Alexander, Duong Fiona V, Forrestel Elizabeth J, Parkinson Dilworth Y, Shackel Kenneth A, Neyhart Jeffrey L, McElrone Andrew J


X-ray computed tomography, deep learning, machine learning and AI, plant physiology, plant science, soil aggregate analysis, soil health, soil science