Using hyperspectral imaging to determine germination of native Australian plant seeds

Christian Nansen, Genpin Zhao, Nicole Dakin, Chunhui Zhao, Shane R. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the ability to accurately and non-destructively determine the germination of three native Australian tree species, Acacia cowleana Tate (Fabaceae), Banksia prionotes L.F. (Proteaceae), and Corymbia calophylla (Lindl.) K.D. Hill & L.A.S. Johnson (Myrtaceae) based on hyperspectral imaging data. While similar studies have been conducted on agricultural and horticultural seeds, we are unaware of any published studies involving reflectance-based assessments of the germination of tree seeds. Hyperspectral imaging data (110 narrow spectral bands from 423.6 nm to 878.9 nm) were acquired of individual seeds after 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 50 days of standardized rapid ageing. At each time point, seeds were subjected to hyperspectral imaging to obtain reflectance profiles from individual seeds. A standard germination test was performed, and we predicted that loss of germination was associated with a significant change in seed coat reflectance profiles. Forward linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was used to select the 10 spectral bands with the highest contribution to classifications of the three species. In all species, germination decreased from over 90% to below 20% in about 10-30 days of experimental ageing. P-50 values (equal to 50% germination) for each species were 19.3 (A. cowleana), 7.0 (B. prionotes) and 22.9 (C. calophylla) days. Based on independent validation of classifications of hyperspectral imaging data, we found that germination of Acacia and Corymbia seeds could be classified with over 85% accuracy, while it was about 80% for Banksia seeds. The selected spectral bands in each LDA-based classification were located near known pigment peaks involved in photosynthesis and/or near spectral bands used in published indices to predict chlorophyll or nitrogen content in leaves. The results suggested that seed germination may be successfully classified (predicted) based on reflectance in narrow spectral bands associated with the primary metabolism function and performance of plants. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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