Leaf measurements are often critical in plant physiological and ecological studies, but traditional methods have been time consuming and sometimes destructive to plant samples. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed Easy Leaf Areaa free software written in an open-source programming languageto allow users to accurately measure leaf area from digital images in seconds.
"It has always been a challenge to measure leaf surface area without damaging the plants or spending long hours in the lab, so I decided to attempt to write software to automatically measure leaf and scale area from smartphone images," explains Hsien Ming Easlon, a researcher at UC Davis and one of the developers of Easy Leaf Area. "Leaf area measurements are essential for estimating crop yields, water usage, nutrient absorption, plant competition, and many other aspects of growth."
The digital images he uses are taken with the Apple IPhone 4, but any current smartphone camera or digital camera will do. Once the images are uploaded to a computer, Easy Leaf Area can process hundreds of images and save the results to a spreadsheet-ready CSV file. The Windows executable software is free to download and can be modified to suit specific experimental requirements. A full report including links to additional resources is available in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences.
Easlon recalls, "Our lab started using digital cameras when I was a graduate student. We figured out how to use Photoshop to measure areas in digital images, but this method still required one to five minutes of human input per image."
Five minutes per image may not seem like a long time, but multiply that by hundreds of plantsa normal sample sizeand those minutes add up fast. By automating data analysis, researchers can save countless hours of manual labor, improve the a
|Contact: Beth Parada|
American Journal of Botany