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Estimation of plant cell wall thickness and cell size by image skeletonization

Journal of Agricultural Science 120(3): 279-287
Estimation of plant cell wall thickness and cell size by image skeletonization
A system for automatically measuring the mean cell-wall thickness in a user-defined area of plant tissue has been developed using image analysis. The digitized grey-level image of a tissue section is first segmented using a histogram-partitioning algorithm. The resulting binary image is then repeatedly thinned until the minimum connected set of pixels, or 'skeleton', remains. A nearest-neighbour length estimator is used to calculate the total length of the skeleton which approximates to the location of the middle lamella in the original section. The length of the skeleton and the number of nodes it contains are used to estimate the mean cell radius, and mean cell-wall thickness using the area of cell-wall material in the segmented binary image. The method has been used to estimate mean cell-wall thickness along a newly extended Zea mays internode, and the results are compared to measurements obtained manually using a micrometer 'line'. The techniques of rapidly assessing mean cell-wall thickness and cell dimensions using image analysis are needed to assess how much of the variation in nutritive value between forage cultivars can be ascribed to changes in cell-wall chemistry and how much to anatomical differences.

Accession: 002373347

DOI: 10.1017/s0021859600076437

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