VSI-BARTZ Minirhizotron camera systems - Root and mycorrhiza development are key for plant performance and affect many ecosystem and biogeochemical processes. Observing the development of root systems is thus key to understand plant performance in natural and production ecosystems (trees and crops), and an important mean to unravel water, carbon and nutrient dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems. Non-destructive images of roots and the rhizosphere can be used to determine a variety of parameters (under controlled or abiotic and biotic stress conditions) including root system development, observation of growth and turnover patterns, root distribution per depth (root system architecture, RSA), occurrence of mycorrhizal root tips and hyphae development, and even rhizobia development and soil fauna observations. However, observing this "hidden half" of ecosystems is not easy, being covered in the soil. Minirhizotron (MR) systems are a qualitative and quantitative observation tool to study root and hyphal growth, longevity and distribution in situ or mesocosms experiments. The MR system is based on transparent tubes (MR-T) inserted tightly into manually or mechanically established holes. Subsequently an minirhizotron imaging device is inserted into the tube in order to record images of roots and rhizosphere seen through the MR tube walls. The images are then recorded and processed by a control unit. Capture Full-HD images of living roots and mycorrhizal hyphae in soil to monitor growth, turnover and root system development over multiple seasons with the VSI-Bartz Minirhizotron systems!
2018 brings about exciting changes both for Vienna Scientific Instruments and the users of minirhizotron camera systems. In our quest to provide our customers the best minirhizotron products available we are very pleased to announce that we are now working in conjunction with the long-term MR camera experts at Bartz Technology Corporation, California, USA. We are currently integrating the advanced VSI hardware MR systems with the convenient, Windows-based ICAP software of BARTZ and will, together, continue to provide reliable and affordable MR hardware and software solutions (such as a new version of BTC-ICAP) to researchers world-wide. Stay tuned.
The VSI-Bartz minirhizotron camera systems are composed of modular units and specific features can be combined to highly customised devices -fitting both scientific needs and funding situation. Our minirhizotron cameras are available either as fixed diameter systems for MR tubes of 5 or 7 cm inner diameter – allowing for continued use of available tubes and to easily upgrade older imaging systems. Imaging systems for other tube diameters can be realised upon request. The imaging process can be completely automatised including tube recognition and imaging of pre-set or previously imaged locations, but classical systems with manual indexing ("Smucker handle") are also available. In any case, precision in terms of imaging quality and repeatability of imaging locations and ease-of-use is key. All imaging systems allow to capture Full HD images of selected areas (around the tube surface), easily allowing to adapt the size of the monitored MR-T surface to research needs and resources available for image analyses. The minor image distortion of original images, caused by the curved tube surface, can be (automatically) corrected by the included software. Image size (standard: 20 x 20 mm) can be adjusted, allowing to align root length observations from MR-Ts e.g. to biomass sampling depth (e.g. 0-10 cm, 10-20 cm, ...) without resizing images. Imaging a depth gradient at a time, on predefined sides of the MR-T, is recommended when using angled MR-Ts -allowing for more accurate soil depth determination then in other systems own the market. The minirhizotron imaging systems are either programmed and operated by a handheld or a laptop (Windows OS, Bartz ICAP program); both wireless (approx. 10 m radius for remote-control-release) and cable-bound options are available. Devices are powered by Li-ion batteries (>10 h operation time @ 10-30°C) or power line (110-230V). Image naming follows the ICAP-scheme (ExpName_T001_L001_Date_Time_001_Op.jpg) to be compatible with analyses software world-wide (see below). In addition, a section number can be given instead of the operator name to distinguish multiple "imaging transects" (depth in vertical MR-Ts, angle in horizontal MR-Ts) within the same MR tube.
Visit the great Plant Image Analysis webpage of G. Lobet for a comprehensive list of image analysis software tools.
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