Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 74, No. 14 pp. 4050–4062, 2023


Open access.


Leaf-level hyperspectral reflectance has become an effective tool for high-throughput phenotyping of plant leaf traits due to its rapid, low-cost, multi-sensing, and non-destructive nature. However, collecting samples for model calibration can still be expensive, and models show poor transferability among different datasets. This study had three specific objectives: first, to assemble a large library of leaf hyperspectral data (n=2460) from maize and sorghum; second, to evaluate two machine-learning approaches to estimate nine leaf properties (chlorophyll, thickness, water content, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur); and third, to investigate the usefulness of this spectral library for predicting external datasets (n=445) including soybean and camelina using extra-weighted spiking. Internal cross-validation showed satisfactory performance of the spectral library to estimate all nine traits (mean R2=0.688), with partial least-squares regression outperforming deep neural network models. Models calibrated solely using the spectral library showed degraded performance on external datasets (mean R2=0.159 for camelina, 0.337 for soybean). Models improved significantly when a small portion of external samples (n=20) was added to the library via extra-weighted spiking (mean R2=0.574 for camelina, 0.536 for soybean). The leaf-level spectral library greatly benefits plant physiological and biochemical phenotyping, whilst extra-weight spiking improves model transferability and extends its utility.