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A comparative analysis of leaf shape of wheat, barley and maize using an empirical shape model

Dornbusch, Tino, Watt, Jillian, Baccar, Rim, Fournier, Christian, Andrieu, Bruno
Annals of botany 2011 v.107 no.5 pp. 865-873
Hordeum vulgare, Triticum aestivum, Zea mays, barley, corn, crop models, crops, cultivars, digital images, environmental factors, image analysis, leaf development, leaves, mature plants, wheat
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The phenotypes of grasses show differences depending on growth conditions and ontogenetic stage. Understanding these responses and finding suitable mathematical formalizations are an essential part of the development of plant and crop models. Usually, a marked change in architecture between juvenile and adult plants is observed, where dimension and shape of leaves are likely to change. In this paper, the plasticity of leaf shape is analysed according to growth conditions and ontogeny. METHODS: Leaf shape of Triticum aestivum, Hordeum vulgare and Zea mays cultivars grown under varying conditions was measured using digital image processing. An empirical leaf shape model was fitted to measured shape data of single leaves. Obtained values of model parameters were used to analyse the patterns in leaf shape. KEY RESULTS: The model was able to delineate leaf shape of all studied species. The model error was small. Differences in leaf shape between juvenile and adult leaves in T. aestivum and H. vulgare were observed. Varying growth conditions impacted leaf dimensions but did not impact leaf shape of the respective species. CONCLUSIONS: Leaf shape of the studied T. aestivum and H. vulgare cultivars was remarkably stable for a comparable ontogenetic stage (leaf rank), but differed between stages. Along with other aspects of grass architecture, leaf shape changed during the transition from juvenile to adult growth phase. Model-based analysis of leaf shape is a method to investigate these differences. Presented results can be integrated into architectural models of plant development to delineate leaf shape for different species, cultivars and environmental conditions.