Determination of wheat spike and spikelet architecture and grain traits using X-ray Computed Tomography imaging

Abstract Background Wheat spike architecture is a key determinant of multiple grain yield components and detailed examination of spike morphometric traits is beneficial to explain wheat grain yield and the effects of differing agronomy and genetics. However, quantification of spike morphometric traits has been very limited because it relies on time-consuming manual measurements.

Results In this study, using X-ray Computed Tomography imaging, we proposed a method to efficiently detect the 3D architecture of wheat spikes and component spikelets by clustering grains based on their Euclidean distance and relative positions. Morphometric characteristics of wheat spikelets and grains, e.g., number, size and spatial distribution along the spike can be determined. Two commercial wheat cultivars, one old, Maris Widgeon, and one modern, Siskin, were studied as examples. The average grain volume of Maris Widgeon and Siskin did not differ, but Siskin had more grains per spike and therefore greater total grain volume per spike. The spike length and spikelet number were not statistically different between the two cultivars. However, Siskin had a higher spikelet density (number of spikelets per unit spike length), with more grains and greater grain volume per spikelet than Maris Widgeon. Spatial distribution analysis revealed the number of grains, the average grain volume and the total grain volume of individual spikelets varied along the spike. Siskin had more grains and greater grain volumes per spikelet from spikelet 6, but not spikelet 1–5, compared with Maris Widgeon. The distribution of average grain volume along the spike was similar for the two wheat cultivars.

Conclusion The proposed method can efficiently extract spike, spikelet and grain morphometric traits of different wheat cultivars, which can contribute to a more detailed understanding of the sink of wheat grain yield.

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Additional Info

Field Value
  • Name: Zhou, Hu, Type: Corresponding Author,
  • Name: Riche, Andrew B., Type: Author,
  • Name: Hawkesford, Malcolm J., Type: Author,
  • Name: Whalley, William R., Type: Author,
  • Name: Atkinson, Brian S., Type: Author,
  • Name: Sturrock, Craig J., Type: Author,
  • Name: Mooney, Sacha J., Type: Author,
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Article Is Open Access true
Article License Type cc-by
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DFW Organisation Nottingham
DFW Work Package 1
DOI 10.1186/s13007-021-00726-5
Date Last Updated 2021-09-10T12:21:42.650915
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Journal Is Open Access true
Open Access Status gold
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