Suxing Liu, first author of “DIRT/3D: 3D root phenotyping for field-grown maize (Zea mays)”
Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate – University of Georgia, Department of Plant Biology
Education: PhD (Shanghai University, China)
Non-scientific Interests: Traveling, collecting transformers, car tuning.
My background in computer science is an unusual one for a plant science research. However, I am excited that my abstract training can be translated into products that contribute to survival on an increasingly warmer planet. In particular, I am fascinated by the ecosystem services of plants. This led me to collaborate with plant scientists to elucidate how plants interact with their biotic and abiotic environment.
I joined the Computational Plant Science Lab at University of Georgia in 2017. I lead the work on 3D root phenotyping to improve carbon sequestration of maize roots in an ARPA-E project under the supervision of Prof. Alexander Bucksch. Together we developed an image-based 3D root phenotyping platform (DIRT/3D) that includes a 3D root scanner and a software package to measure 18 root architecture traits from mature field-grown maize root crowns. We also developed a mathematical descriptor to characterize a complete 3D root architecture as one function, which improved genotype distinction compared to existing 2D solutions.
DIRT/3D is a promising step towards automated quantification of maize root systems in the field. I hope our work will enable discovery of genes associated with deeper rooting and therefore pave a new way to increase soil carbon sequestration of crops.