High-throughput phenotyping methods for quantifying hair fiber morphology


Quantifying the continuous variation in human scalp hair morphology is of interest to anthropologists, geneticists, dermatologists and forensic scientists, but existing methods for studying hair form are time-consuming and not widely used. Here, we present a high-throughput sample preparation protocol for the imaging of both longitudinal (curvature) and cross-sectional scalp hair morphology. Additionally, we describe and validate a new Python package designed to process longitudinal and cross-sectional hair images, segment them, and provide measurements of interest. Lastly, we apply our methods to an admixed African-European sample (n = 140), demonstrating the benefit of quantifying hair morphology over classification, and providing evidence that the relationship between cross-sectional morphology and curvature may be an artefact of population stratification rather than a causal link.

Tina Lasisi
Tina Lasisi
Postdoctoral Researcher in Biological Anthropology

My research interests include human phenotypic variation in hair morphology and skin pigmentation.