An Affordable, Automated Solution for Nondestructive Analysis of Root System Development


An aging population, dense urban systems, and strain on food sup-
plies are all topics motivating research into plant growth mecha-
nisms. To study this, researchers employ a variety of techniques and
equipment both in-situ and in labs. Due to the destructive nature of
removing plants from growth media, methods for continuous imag-
ing along the plants lifecycle are desirable. With continual price
declines of simple microcontrollers and accessible manufacturing,
automated systems are being created for a variety of research areas.
We leverage such systems to create a novel automated imaging
platform to study root growth by creating narrow rhizoboxes with
controllable watering and nutrient distribution. Our system is mod-
ular, easily expanded, and simple to build. 

Fig. 1:

Camera moving along track taking images of each sheath in series

Fig. 2:

Exploded assembly of acrylic sheath

Fig. 3:

Electronic hardware set-up

An inexpensive and streamlined research tool designed to be recreated and used in a wide range of research applications. Utilizing acrylic rhizoboxes and a camera tracking daily root progression, it offers a breakthrough in nondestructive analysis. Customizable schedules control nutrient dosing, watering, and grow lights, empowering comprehensive root system studies. The Raspberry Pi-powered system, easily replicated with online guidelines, assembly instructions, and code, promises to redefine your research capabilities. Elevate your research with Rhizosheath—a compact, accessible solution reshaping the study of plant roots.