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Design and Demonstration of a Low Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Rhizotron for In-Field Imaging of Energy Sorghum Roots



George Bagnall, Stephen Altobelli, Mark Conradi, Hilary Fabich, Eiichi Fukushima, Neha Koonjoo, Dean Kuethe, William Rooney, Karl Stupic, Bragi Sveinsson, Brock Weers, NITHYA RAJAN, Matthew Rosen, Cristine Morgan


Advances in plant root phenotyping will play a crucial role in the development of modern crop varieties for fostering sustainable agriculture. Root phenotyping provides critical information to plant breeders for developing varieties with improved drought tolerance, greater root biomass, and greater nutrient use efficiency. Phenotyping roots in the natural environment is important for understanding the impact of the soil environment on root genotypic expressions. The goal of this work was to design and test a field-scale mobile Low-field Magnetic Resonance Imaging (LF-MRI) Rhizotron that produces actionable root phenotyping data. We demonstrated this novel technology for root visualization and quantification using a LF-MRI Rhizotron operating at 47 mT with two soil types. The LF-MRI Rhizotron weights 453 kg, with a height of 90 cm, a diameter of 28 cm and an imaging field of view of 28 cm x 28 cm. The unit was operated in a Belk clay (Entic Hapluderts) and Weswood silt loam (Udifluventic Halustepts) generating 2-D and 3-D image data sets. The 2-D image data had a collection time of 16.5 min. per image at a image resolution of 2.2 mm per pixel. The 3-D data had a collection time of 13 hr. per image with a voxel resolution of 2.2 mm. Low field MRI worked well for visualizing roots in moderate to high clay soils, demonstrating the potential for this technology; however, this platform is at the low end of usability due to the prohibitively long scanning time for 3D images. By increasing the field strength, and therefore the SNR, we believe faster scan times would result in a more robust system.
The Plant Phenome Journal


MRI, low field, roots, agriculture, imaging, rhizotron, sorghum


Bagnall, G. , Altobelli, S. , Conradi, M. , Fabich, H. , Fukushima, E. , Koonjoo, N. , Kuethe, D. , Rooney, W. , Stupic, K. , Sveinsson, B. , Weers, B. , RAJAN, N. , Rosen, M. and Morgan, C. (2022), Design and Demonstration of a Low Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Rhizotron for In-Field Imaging of Energy Sorghum Roots, The Plant Phenome Journal (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created March 20, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022