Plant Science Innovation, Center for


Date of this Version



DOI 10.7717/peerj.12628




Selection for yield at high planting density has reshaped the leaf canopy of maize, improving photosynthetic productivity in high density settings. Further optimization of canopy architecture may be possible. However, measuring leaf angles, the widely studied component trait of leaf canopy architecture, by hand is a labor and time intensive process. Here, we use multiple, calibrated, 2D images to reconstruct the 3D geometry of individual sorghum plants using a voxel carving based algorithm. Automatic skeletonization and segmentation of these 3D geometries enable quan- tification of the angle of each leaf for each plant. The resulting measurements are both heritable and correlated with manually collected leaf angles. This automated and scaleable reconstruction approach was employed to measure leaf-by-leaf angles for a population of 366 sorghum plants at multiple time points, resulting in 971 successful reconstructions and 3,376 leaf angle measurements from individual leaves. A genome wide association study conducted using aggregated leaf angle data identified a known large effect leaf angle gene, several previously identified leaf angle QTL from a sorghum NAM population, and novel signals. Genome wide association studies conducted separately for three individual sorghum leaves identified a number of the same signals, a previously unreported signal shared across multiple leaves, and signals near the sorghum orthologs of two maize genes known to influence leaf angle. Automated measurement of individual leaves and mapping variants associated with leaf angle reduce the barriers to engineering ideal canopy architectures in sorghum and other grain crops.