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DIRT/3D (Digital Imaging of Root Traits) is an image-based 3D root phenotyping platform that can measure traits from field-grown root crowns.

The platform will help breeders and farmers create crops that can withstand higher temperatures and sequester more CO2 in the soil.

DIRT/3D uses a motorized camera to capture 2,000 images per root. These are then transformed into a 3D point cloud — a digital twin of the root system that can be studied, stored, and compared.

In experiments, DIRT/3D reliably computed 18 architectural traits, including the distance between whorls, for 12 contrasting maize genotypes.

Individuals will soon be able to upload their data to a free service called PlantIT that will run DIRT/3D and provide root analyses.

The NSF-funded Stampede2 supercomputer at TACC, as well as CyVerse, led by the University of Arizona, enabled the research and will power the public DIRT/3D servers.


Faith Singer

Communications Manager

Jorge Salazar

Technical Writer/Editor