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Quantifying Contributions of Different Factors to Canopy Photosynthesis in 2 Maize Varieties: Development of a Novel 3D Canopy Modeling Pipeline

Qingfeng Song, Fusang Liu, Hongyi Bu, Xin-Guang Zhu


Crop yield potential is intrinsically related to canopy photosynthesis; therefore, improving canopy photosynthetic efficiency is a major focus of current efforts to enhance crop yield. Canopy photosynthesis rate (Ac) is influenced by several factors, including plant architecture, leaf chlorophyll content, and leaf photosynthetic properties, which interact with each other. Identifying factors that restrict canopy photosynthesis and target adjustments to improve canopy photosynthesis in a specific crop cultivar pose an important challenge for the breeding community. To address this challenge, we developed a novel pipeline that utilizes factorial analysis, canopy photosynthesis modeling, and phenomics data collected using a 64-camera multi-view stereo system, enabling the dissection of the contributions of different factors to differences in canopy photosynthesis between maize cultivars. We applied this method to 2 maize varieties, W64A and A619, and found that leaf photosynthetic efficiency is the primary determinant (17.5% to 29.2%) of the difference in Ac between 2 maize varieties at all stages, and plant architecture at early stages also contribute to the difference in Ac (5.3% to 6.7%). Additionally, the contributions of each leaf photosynthetic parameter and plant architectural trait were dissected. We also found that the leaf photosynthetic parameters were linearly correlated with Ac and plant architecture traits were non-linearly related to Ac. This study developed a novel pipeline that provides a method for dissecting the relationship among individual phenotypes controlling the complex trait of canopy photosynthesis.

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