Project Director

Boyd, Jennifer

Department Examiner

Klug, Hope


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


A phenotype describes the expressed traits of an organism. These traits can provide insight into interactions between an organism and its environment, making them a key focus of ecological research. But the process of phenotyping traits can be tedious to collect for large-scale experiments. High-throughput phenotyping software has the ability to speed up the phenotyping process by allowing multiple traits to be phenotyped at once. However, the utility of this relatively new and continually developing computational tool is still being assessed, especially beyond applications focused on agricultural crops and grasses. I investigated the accuracy and efficiency of the open-access high-throughput phenotyping software PlantCV for measuring phenotypic traits in a large common garden experiment designed to investigate the ability of rare vs. common Helianthus spp. (sunflower) species to acclimate to a change in light availability. Specifically, I compared PlantCV output to hand measurements of plant height, leaf number, and ground cover. I hypothesized that the accuracy of PlantCV would decline as plants grew larger and with more complex architecture. Assessing the utility of high-throughput phenotyping software for ecological research could help to provide ecologists with a tool that could maximize their research efficiency.


I would like to thank the office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors and the Honors College at UTC for awarding me the SEARCH Award and Odyssey Grant that allowed me to travel and work on this research. Also, I would like to thank the National Science Foundation and The State Botanical Garden of Georgia which respectively provided the funding and space for the original experiment. I also want to extend my gratitude to Thomas Wiegand, Noura Elsaeed, and Will Rogers for helping care for the plants, taking photos, and all their support and guidance. I also want to show my appreciation for my thesis advisor Dr. Jennifer Boyd, as well as, my thesis committee Dr. Hope Klug for all of their guidance and support throughout the research and writing process. I would also like Noah Falhgren and the team at Plant CV for their guidance in using the program, as well as, all their time and dedication spent creating open software dedicated to helping anyone interested in conducting plant research.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Sunflowers; Phenotypic plasticity; Image analysis


Phenotyping; Plasticity; Helianthus; Plant Ecology; Rarity


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Document Type



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