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High-throughput method for ear phenotyping and kernel weight estimation in maize using ear digital imaging
- Makanza, R., Zaman-Allah, M., Cairns, J. E., Eyre, J., Burgueño, J., Pacheco, Ángela, Diepenbrock, C., Magorokosho, C., Tarekegne, A., Olsen, M., Prasanna, B. M.
- Plant methods 2018 v.14 no.1 pp. 49
- breeding, computer software, corn, environmental factors, field experimentation, grain yield, harvesting, heritability, image analysis, phenotype
- BACKGROUND: Grain yield, ear and kernel attributes can assist to understand the performance of maize plant under different environmental conditions and can be used in the variety development process to address farmer’s preferences. These parameters are however still laborious and expensive to measure. RESULTS: A low-cost ear digital imaging method was developed that provides estimates of ear and kernel attributes i.e., ear number and size, kernel number and size as well as kernel weight from photos of ears harvested from field trial plots. The image processing method uses a script that runs in a batch mode on ImageJ; an open source software. Kernel weight was estimated using the total kernel number derived from the number of kernels visible on the image and the average kernel size. Data showed a good agreement in terms of accuracy and precision between ground truth measurements and data generated through image processing. Broad-sense heritability of the estimated parameters was in the range or higher than that for measured grain weight. Limitation of the method for kernel weight estimation is discussed. CONCLUSION: The method developed in this work provides an opportunity to significantly reduce the cost of selection in the breeding process, especially for resource constrained crop improvement programs and can be used to learn more about the genetic bases of grain yield determinants.