Automated imaging of duckweed growth and development

Kevin L. Cox, Jordan Manchego, Blake C. Meyers, Kirk J. Czymmek, Alex Harkess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Duckweeds are the smallest angiosperms, possessing a simple body architecture and highest rates of biomass accumulation. They can grow near-exponentially via clonal propagation. Understanding their reproductive biology, growth, and development is essential to unlock their potential for phytoremediation, carbon capture, and nutrition. However, there is a lack of non-laborious and convenient methods for spatially and temporally imaging an array of duckweed plants and growth conditions in the same experiment. We developed an automated microscopy approach to record time-lapse images of duckweed plants growing in 12-well cell culture plates. As a proof-of-concept experiment, we grew duckweed on semi-solid media with and without sucrose and monitored its effect on their growth over 3 days. Using the PlantCV toolkit, we quantified the thallus area of individual plantlets over time, and showed that L. minor grown on sucrose had an average growth rate four times higher than without sucrose. This method will serve as a blueprint to perform automated high-throughput growth assays for studying the development patterns of duckweeds from different species, genotypes, and conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere439
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Lemna
  • PlantCV
  • microscopy
  • time-lapse


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