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Rooting in the underworld: Exploring the hidden half of plants

Rooting in the underworld: Exploring the hidden half of plants. Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, University of Nottingham

The team

From The University of Nottingham:

  • Professor Malcolm Bennett
  • Dr Susie Lydon
  • Dr Saoirse Tracy
  • Professor Sacha Mooney
  • Professor Neil Crout
  • Dr Craig Sturrock
  • Dr Darren Wells
  • Dr Andrew French
  • Dr Daniela Dietrich
  • Dr Amanda Rasmussen
  • Professor Tony Pridmore

The science behind the exhibit

Understanding how plant roots grow in soil is important, as we try to find ways to grow more food on limited land, with limited resources, and in the face of climate change. In the past, we had to wash the soil from root systems to study them, or grow plants using alternatives to soil. We are now using X-ray Computed Tomography to visualise root systems growing in soil in 3D, enabling us to scan the same plant many times without disturbing the roots as they grow. Combined with innovative software, this is revolutionising our understanding of root growth in soil.

About the exhibit

  • Root structures printed in 3D from real experimental data, which the visitors can handle themselves
  • 2D and 3D computer visualisations allowing visitors to experience the underground world of the plant, soil, roots and microbial interactions with a 'worm's eye' perspective (computer-based activity)
  • Soil science lucky dip game (hands-on activity)
  • Choose your 'root' through the soil game (hands-on activity)
  • Image analysis challenge – can you do better? (computer-based activity)