Classifying cold-stress responses of inbred maize seedlings using RGB imaging

Tara A. Enders, Susan St. Dennis, Justin Oakland, Steven T. Callen, Malia A. Gehan, Nathan D. Miller, Edgar P. Spalding, Nathan M. Springer, Cory D. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Increasing the tolerance of maize seedlings to low-temperature episodes could mitigate the effects of increasing climate variability on yield. To aid progress toward this goal, we established a growth chamber-based system for subjecting seedlings of 40 maize inbred genotypes to a defined, temporary cold stress while collecting digital profile images over a 9-daytime course. Image analysis performed with PlantCV software quantified shoot height, shoot area, 14 other morphological traits, and necrosis identified by color analysis. Hierarchical clustering of changes in growth rates of morphological traits and quantification of leaf necrosis over two time intervals resulted in three clusters of genotypes, which are characterized by unique responses to cold stress. For any given genotype, the set of traits with similar growth rates is unique. However, the patterns among traits are different between genotypes. Cold sensitivity was not correlated with the latitude where the inbred varieties were released suggesting potential further improvement for this trait. This work will serve as the basis for future experiments investigating the genetic basis of recovery to cold stress in maize seedlings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00104
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Veronica Swanson, Meg Gerold, Hayden Christensen, Kjell Sandstrom, Danielle Sorensen, and Shale Demuth for technical assistance in data collection. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Award IOS‐1444456.

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation Plant Genome, Grant/Award Number: IOS-1444456

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Plant Direct published by American Society of Plant Biologists, Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cold stress
  • maize
  • necrosis
  • phenotyping
  • seedling growth


Dive into the research topics of 'Classifying cold-stress responses of inbred maize seedlings using RGB imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this