Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Phenotyping cotton ovule fibre initiation with spatial statistics

David Lovell A D , Yingru Wu B , Rosemary White C , Adriane Machado C , Danny J. Llewellyn C , Elizabeth S. Dennis C and Robert S. Anderssen A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences, GPO Box 664, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Present address: Food Standards Australia New Zealand, PO Box 7186, Canberra, ACT 2610, Australia.

C CSIRO Plant Industry GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 55(6) 608-617
Submitted: 9 January 2007  Accepted: 15 May 2007   Published: 27 September 2007


Yield in cultivated cotton (Gossypium spp.) is affected by the number and distribution of fibres initiated on the seed surface but, apart from simple statistical summaries, little has been done to assess this phenotype quantitatively. Here we use two types of spatial statistics to describe and quantify differences in patterning of cotton ovule fibre initials (FI). The following five different species of Gossypium were analysed: G. hirsutum L., G. barbadense L., G. arboreum, G. raimondii Ulbrich. and G. trilobum (DC.) Skovsted. Scanning electron micrographs of FIs were taken on the day of anthesis. Cell centres for fibre and epidermal cells were digitised and analysed by spatial statistics methods appropriate for marked point processes and tessellations. Results were consistent with previously published reports of fibre number and spacing. However, it was shown that the spatial distributions of FIs in all of species examined exhibit regularity, and are not completely random as previously implied. The regular arrangement indicates FIs do not appear independently of each other and we surmise there may be some form of mutual inhibition specifying fibre-initial development. It is concluded that genetic control of FIs differs from that of stomata, another well studied plant idioblast. Since spatial statistics show clear species differences in the distribution of FIs within this genus, they provide a useful method for phenotyping cotton.


We thank Union Huynh for digitising the images and Merran Hunter and Todd Collins for caring for the cotton plants grown in the glasshouse. Celia Miller produced the SEM images used for the analysis. We thank the NSW Centre for Agricultural Genomics, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation and Cotton Seed Distributors for partial funding of this research. We gratefully acknowledge the insights that Adrian Baddeley provided in his reviews of drafts of this paper, as well as the comments of two anonymous reviewers.


Baddeley A, Turner R (2005) Spatstat: an R package for analyzing spatial point patterns. Journal of Statistical Software 12, 1–42.

Basra AS (1999) ‘Cotton fibers: developmental biology, quality improvement, and textile processing.’ (Food Products Press: New York)

Basra AS, Malik CP (1984) Development of the cotton fiber. International Review of Cytology 89, 65–113.

Bean GJ, Marks MD, Hülskamp M, Clayton M, Croxdale JL (2002) Tissue patterning of Arabidopsis cotyledons. New Phytologist 153, 461–467.
CrossRef |

Berger F, Hung C-Y, Dolan L, Schiefelbein J (1998) Control of cell division in the root epidermis of Arabidopsis thaliana. Developmental Biology 194, 235–245.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Bivand R (2006) ‘Spdep: spatial dependence: weighting schemes, statistics and models.’ Available at [verified 21 September 2007].

Bowman DT, Van Esbroeck GA, Van’t Hof J, Jividen GM (2001) Ovule fiber cell numbers in modern Upland cultivars. Journal of Cotton Science 5, 81–83.

Cliff AD , Ord JK (1981) ‘Spatial processes: models and applications.’ (Pion: London)

Craig S, Beaton CD (1996) A simple cryo-SEM method for delicate plant tissues. Journal of Microscopy 182, 102–105.
CrossRef |

Croxdale JL (2000) Stomatal patterning in angiosperms. American Journal of Botany 87, 1069–1080.
CrossRef | PubMed |

CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences (2004) ‘Imview: a portable image viewing and analysis application.’ Available at [verified 21 September 2007].

Diggle PJ (1983) ‘Statistical analysis of spatial point patterns.’ (Academic Press: London)

Dugger WN , Sachs T (1987) Control of fiber differentiation from cotton ovule epidermis: an in vitro study. BARD Research Project No: US 697–83.

Glover BJ (2000) Differentiation in plant epidermal cells. Journal of Experimental Botany 51, 497–505.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Holt JS , Stewart JM (1994) A model for cotton fiber initiation. In ‘1994 proceedings beltwide cotton conferences’. pp. 1320–1324. (National Cotton Council: Memphis, TN)

Larkin JC, Young N, Prigge M, Marks MD (1996) The control of trichome spacing and number in Arabidopsis.  Development 122, 997–1005.
PubMed |

Larkin JC, Brown ML, Schiefelbein J (2003) How do cells know what they want to be when they grow up? Lessons from epidermal patterning in Arabidopsis. Annual Review of Plant Biology 54, 403–430.
CrossRef | PubMed |

van Lieshout MNM, Baddeley AJ (1996) A nonparametric measure of spatial interaction in point patterns. Statistica Neerlandica 50, 344–361.

van Lieshout MNM, Baddeley AJ (1999) Indices of dependence between types in multivariate point patterns. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics 26, 511–532.
CrossRef |

Marx A, Sachs T (1977) The determination of stomata pattern and frequency in anagallis. Botanical Gazette 138, 385–392.
CrossRef |

Mauney JR , Stewart JM (1986) ‘Cotton physiology.’ (Eds JR Mauney, JM Stewart) (The Cotton Foundation: Memphis, TN)

Nadeau JA , Sack FD (2002) Stomatal development in Arabidopsis. In ‘The Arabidopsis book’. (Eds CR Somerville, EM Meyerowitz) (American Society of Plant Biologists: Rockville, MD). Available at [verified 21 September 2007]. doi:10.1199/tab.0066

Osborne BG, Anderssen RS (2003) Single-kernel characterization principles and applications. Cereal Chemistry 80, 613–622.
CrossRef |

Rahman H (2006) Number and weight of cotton lint fibres: variations due to high temperature in the field. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 57, 583–590.
CrossRef |

Ramsey JC, Berlin JD (1976) Ultrastructure of early stages of cotton fiber differentiation. Botanical Gazette 137, 11–19.
CrossRef |

R Development Core Team (2004) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Available at [verified August 2007].

Ripley BD (1981) ‘Spatial statistics.’ (John Wiley and Sons: New York)

Seagull RW, Oliveri V, Murphy K, Binder A, Kothari S (2000) Cotton fiber growth and development 2. Changes in cell diameter and wall birefringence. Journal of Cotton Science 4, 97–104.

Sachs T (1978) The development of spacing patterns in the leaf epidermis. In ‘The clonal basis of development’. (Eds S Subtelny, IM Sussex) pp. 161–183. (Academic Press: New York)

Stewart JM (1975) Fiber initiation on the cotton ovule (Gossypium hirsutum). American Journal of Botany 62, 723–730.
CrossRef |

Stoyan D , Kendall WS , Mecke J (1995) ‘Stochastic geometry and its applications.’ (J. Wiley: Chichester, NY)

Turner R (2002) ‘deldir: delaunay triangulation and dirichlet (Voronoi) tessellation. R package version 0.0-2.’ Available at [verified August 2007].

Wu Y, Machado AC, White RG, Llewellyn DJ, Dennis ES (2006) Expression profiling identifies genes expressed during lint fibre initiation in cotton. Plant & Cell Physiology 47, 107–127.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Accessory Publication available on the web

To enable the statistical analyses described in this paper to be reproduced, we provide which contains the following 19 data sets in electronic form to be made available on request to the Australian Journal of Botany:

Gossypium arboreum1.ppp

Gossypium arboreum3.ppp

Gossypium arboreum4.ppp

Gossypium arboreum5.ppp

Gossypium barbadense1.ppp

Gossypium barbadense2.ppp

Gossypium barbadense3.ppp

Gossypium barbadense5.ppp

Gossypium hirsutum1.ppp

Gossypium hirsutum2.ppp

Gossypium hirsutum3.ppp

Gossypium hirsutum5.ppp

Gossypium hirsutum6.ppp

Gossypium raimondii1.ppp

Gossypium raimondii2.ppp

Gossypium raimondii3.ppp

Gossypium trilobum1.ppp

Gossypium trilobum2.ppp

Gossypium trilobum3.ppp

Each of these files contains information about the cell centres observed in the images analysed in the present paper. The file name describes the species and image number. Within each file, each line contains

  1. the x-coordinate of a cell centre in μm,

  2. the y-coordinate of a cell centre in μm and

  3. the cell type (‘trichome’ or ‘non-trichome’).

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (103 KB) Export Citation Cited By (5)