17 May 2024

Efficiently recording and processing data from arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization assays using AMScorer and AMReader

Edwin Jarratt-Barnham, Giles ED Oldroyd, Jeongmin Choi - Frontiers in Plant Science, 2024


Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi engage with land plants in a widespread, mutualistic endosymbiosis which provides their hosts with increased access to nutrients and enhanced biotic and abiotic stress resistance. The potential for reducing fertiliser use and improving crop resilience has resulted in rapidly increasing scientific interest. Microscopic quantification of the level of AM colonization is of fundamental importance to this research, however the methods for recording and processing these data are time-consuming and tedious. In order to streamline these processes, we have developed AMScorer, an easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet, which enables the user to record data rapidly during from microscopy-based assays, and instantly performs the subsequent data processing steps. In our hands, AMScorer has more than halved the time required for data collection compared to paper-based methods. Subsequently, we developed AMReader, a user-friendly R package, which enables easy visualization and statistical analyses of data from AMScorer. These tools require only limited skills in Excel and R, and can accelerate research into AM symbioses, help researchers with variable resources to conduct research, and facilitate the storage and sharing of data from AM colonization assays. They are available for download at https://github.com/EJarrattBarnham/AMReader, along with an extensive user manual.

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