Plant biologists are facing pressure to quantify the response of plants to changing environments and to breed plants that can respond to such changes. One method of monitoring the response of plants to different environments is by studying their vein network patterns. These networks impact whole plant photosynthesis and the mechanical properties of leaves, and vary between species that have evolved or have been bred under different environmental conditions.
To help address the challenge of how to quickly examine a large quantity of leaves, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a user-assisted software tool that extracts macroscopic vein structures directly from leaf images.
"The software can be used to help identify genes responsible for key leaf venation network traits and to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses regarding the structure and function of leaf venation networks," said Joshua Weitz, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Biology.
The program, called Leaf Extraction and Analysis Framework Graphical User Interface (LEAF GUI), enables scientists and breeders to measure the properties of thousands of veins much more quickly than manual image analysis tools.
Details of the LEAF GUI software program were published in the "Breakthrough Technologies" section of the January issue of the journal Plant Physiology. Development of the software, which is available for download at www.leafgui.org, was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Burroughs Welcome Fund.
LEAF GUI is a user-assisted software tool that takes an image of a leaf and, following a series of interactive steps to clean up the image, returns information on the structure of that leaf's vein networks. Structural measurements include the dimensions, position and connectivity of all network veins, and the dimensions, shape
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Georgia Institute of Technology Research News