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Art of Science image titled Charms

Scientist Collaborator Jiayang (Kevin) Xie

Andrew Leakey Laboratory

Mask R-CNN

Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Through photosynthesis, plants sustain our ecosystems, using carbon dioxide and captured sunlight to create life-giving sugar and oxygen. Plants exchange air and moisture through pores in their leaves and other tissues called stomata, which open and close. As climate change alters the temperature, humidity, and composition of the air plants breathe, they must adapt their responses in order to survive.

Researchers are studying the stomata of corn and other crop plants to understand and facilitate this adaptation to climate change. The root image for this piece was created with a custom-modified software program that identifies and traces stomata in images of leaves. The shifting colors used here evoke the way the computer scans and quantifies leaf structure; the quilting tessellations remind us that seeing and counting has a familiar beauty.