Graduate student works on project to image maize roots

Monday, October 31, 2022
hand cutting corn roots with a tool
hand cutting corn roots with a tool

Most crop imaging studies focus on what grows above the ground, like leaf angle and plant height. Agronomy & Horticulture graduate student Musa Ulutas is doing a deep dive on corn characteristics by working on a project to image corn roots.

 He decided to take this novel approach while working in a lab run by Jinliang Yang, Agronomy & Horticulture assistant professor. Musa is part of a research team working to analyze the corn microbiome to determine reaction to varying levels of nitrogen in the soil.

 After the team harvested 2,400 plants for the project, Musa imaged 2,100 corn root samples from all angles through an extensive process. He washed the roots, imaged six plants at a time using the LemnaTec 3D high throughput scanalyzer at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Greenhouse, and took measurements of stem diameter, node lengths and root weights.

 Musa plans to create a 3D reconstruction with the images, ultimately to map maize genes in controlling root morphology under high and low nitrogen soil conditions.