Factors influencing real time internal structural visualization and dynamic process monitoring in plants using synchrotron-based phase contrast X-ray imaging
Minimally invasive investigation of plant parts (root, stem, leaves, and flower) has good potential to elucidate the dynamics of plant growth, morphology, physiology, and root-rhizosphere interactions. Laboratory based absorption X-ray imaging and computed tomography (CT) systems are extensively used for in situ feasibility studies of plants grown in natural and artificial soil. These techniques have challenges such as low contrast between soil pore space and roots, long X-ray imaging time, and low spatial resolution. In this study, the use of synchrotron (SR) based phase contrast X-ray imaging (PCI) has been demonstrated as a minimally invasive technique for imaging plants. Above ground plant parts and roots of 10 day old canola and wheat seedlings grown in sandy clay loam soil were successfully scanned and reconstructed. Results confirmed that SR-PCI can deliver good quality images to study dynamic and real time processes such as cavitation and water-refilling in plants. The advantages of SR-PCI, effect of X-ray energy, and effective pixel size to study plant samples have been demonstrated. The use of contrast agents to monitor physiological processes in plants was also investigated and discussed.