SeedQuant: A deep learning-based tool for assessing stimulant and inhibitor activity on root parasitic seeds (Plant Physiol.)

Parasitic plants can completely wipe out a farmer’s harvest. The seeds can lie dormant in soil until they perceive signals from potential host plants, which stimulate germination. Therefore, germination stimulants applied to fields before the crops are planted can cause the parasitic seeds to germinate and die in the absence of their host. Many compounds have been studied to try to identify cheap, effective, stable germination stimulants, but the scoring of their effect (counting seed germination) is time consuming. Here, Braguy, Ramazanova, Giancola et al. describe a tool, created by deep learning (a subfield of artificial intelligence) that is able to quickly and efficiently quantify seed germination. The tool, which uses a Faster Region-based Convolutional Neural Network (Faster R-CNN) to assess seeds, is 95% accurate and requires only a fraction of a second to extract data. SeedQuant is free to use and can be found here (Summary by Mary Williams @PlantTeaching) Plant Physiol. 10.1093/plphys/kiab173