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Defining the scope for altering rice leaf anatomy to improve photosynthesis: a modelling approach

Xiao, Yi; Sloan, Jen; Hepworth, Chris; Fradera-Soler, Marc; Mathers, Andrew; Thorley, Rachel; Baillie, Alice; Jones, Hannah; Chang, Tiangen; Chen, Xingyuan; Yaapar, Nazmin; Osborne, Colin P; Sturrock, Craig; Mooney, Sacha J.; Fleming, Andrew J; Zhu, Xin-Guang


Yi Xiao

Jen Sloan

Chris Hepworth

Marc Fradera-Soler

Andrew Mathers

Rachel Thorley

Alice Baillie

Hannah Jones

Tiangen Chang

Xingyuan Chen

Nazmin Yaapar

Colin P Osborne

Professor of Soil Physics

Andrew J Fleming

Xin-Guang Zhu


Leaf structure plays an important role in photosynthesis. However, the causal relationship and the quantitative importance of any single structural parameter to the overall photosynthetic performance of a leaf remains open to debate. In this paper, we report on a mechanistic model, eLeaf, which successfully captures rice leaf photosynthetic performance under varying environmental conditions of light and CO2. We developed a 3D reaction-diffusion model for leaf photosynthesis parameterised using a range of imaging data and biochemical measurements from plants grown under ambient and elevated CO2 and then interrogated the model to quantify the importance of these elements. The model successfully captured leaf-level photosynthetic performance in rice. Photosynthetic metabolism underpinned the majority of the increased carbon assimilation rate observed under elevated CO2 levels, with a range of structural elements making positive and negative contributions. Mesophyll porosity could be varied without any major outcome on photosynthetic performance, providing a theoretical underpinning for experimental data. eLeaf allows quantitative analysis of the influence of morphological and biochemical properties on leaf photosynthesis. The analysis highlights a degree of leaf structural plasticity with respect to photosynthesis of significance in the context of attempts to improve crop photosynthesis.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 3, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 21, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Dec 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 22, 2022
Journal New Phytologist
Print ISSN 0028-646X
Electronic ISSN 1469-8137
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 237
Issue 2
Pages 441-453
Keywords Anatomy, Systems Biology, Rice, Photosynthesis, Mesophyll, Leaf
Public URL
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