AirMeasurer: open-source software to quantify static and dynamic traits derived from multiseason aerial phenotyping to empower genetic mapping studies in rice

Gang Sun, Hengyun Lu, Yan Zhao, Jie Zhou, Robert Jackson, Yongchun Wang, Ling-Xiang Xu, Ahong Wang, Joshua Colmer, Eric Ober, Qiang Zhao, Bin Han, Ji Zhou (Lead Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Low-altitude aerial imaging, an approach that can collect large-scale plant imagery, has grown in popularity recently. Amongst many phenotyping approaches, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) possess unique advantages as a consequence of their mobility, flexibility and affordability. Nevertheless, how to extract biologically relevant information effectively has remained challenging. Here, we present AirMeasurer, an open-source and expandable platform that combines automated image analysis, machine learning and original algorithms to perform trait analysis using 2D/3D aerial imagery acquired by low-cost UAVs in rice (Oryza sativa) trials. We applied the platform to study hundreds of rice landraces and recombinant inbred lines at two sites, from 2019 to 2021. A range of static and dynamic traits were quantified, including crop height, canopy coverage, vegetative indices and their growth rates. After verifying the reliability of AirMeasurer-derived traits, we identified genetic variants associated with selected growth-related traits using genome-wide association study and quantitative trait loci mapping. We found that the AirMeasurer-derived traits had led to reliable loci, some matched with published work, and others helped us to explore new candidate genes. Hence, we believe that our work demonstrates valuable advances in aerial phenotyping and automated 2D/3D trait analysis, providing high-quality phenotypic information to empower genetic mapping for crop improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1584-1604
Number of pages21
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
Early online date28 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • 2D/3D trait analysis
  • Aerial phenotyping
  • genetic mapping
  • predictive modelling
  • rice
  • static and dynamic traits
  • aerial phenotyping

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