Electrical impedance tomography as a tool for phenotyping plant roots

Diego Corona López, Sarah Sommer, Stephen Rolfe, Frank Podd, Bruce Grieve

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Plant roots are complex, three-dimensional structures that play a central role in anchorage, water and nutrient acquisition, storage and interaction with rhizosphere microbes. Studying the development of the plant root system architecture is inherently difficult as soil is not a transparent medium.
    Results: This study uses electrical impedance tomography (EIT) to visualise oilseed rape root development in horticultural compost. The development of healthy, control plants and those infected with the gall-forming pathogen, Plasmodiophora brassicae—the causative agent of clubroot disease—were compared. EIT measurements were used to quantify the development of the root system and distinguish between control and infected plants at the onset of gall formation, approximately 20 days after inoculation. Although clear and stark differences between healthy and infected plants were obtained by careful (and hence laborious) packing of the growth medium in layers within the
    pots; clubroot identification is still possible without a laborious vessel filling protocol.
    Conclusions: These results demonstrate the utility of EIT as a low-cost, non-invasive, non-destructive method for characterising root system architecture and plant-pathogen interactions in opaque growth media. As such it offers advantages over other root characterisation techniques and has the potential to act as a low-cost tool for plant phenotyping.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number49
    JournalPlant Methods
    Issue number1
    Early online date21 May 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2019


    • Root development
    • Plant pathogen detection
    • Electrical impedace tomography
    • Plasmodiophora brassicae
    • Brassica napus L.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Electrical impedance tomography as a tool for phenotyping plant roots'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
    • Electromagnetic Sensing Group

      Peyton, A., Fletcher, A., Daniels, D., Conniffe, D., Podd, F., Davidson, J., Anderson, J., Wilson, J., Marsh, L., O'Toole, M., Watson, S., Yin, W., Regan, A., Williams, K., Rana, S., Khalil, K., Hills, D., Whyte, C., Wang, C., Hodgskin-Brown, R., Dadkhahtehrani, F., Forster, S., Zhu, F., Yu, K., Xiong, L., Lu, T., Zhang, L., Lyu, R., Zhu, R., She, S., Meng, T., Pang, X., Zheng, X., Bai, X., Zou, X., Ding, Y., Shao, Y., Xia, Z. & Zhang, Z.

      1/10/04 → …

      Project: Research

    Cite this