Campus Units

Agronomy, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Plant Sciences Institute

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Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Applications in Plant Sciences





First Page





PREMISE: Maize yields have significantly increased over the past half-century owing to advances in breeding and agronomic practices. Plants have been grown in increasingly higher densities due to changes in plant architecture resulting in plants with more upright leaves, which allows more efficient light interception for photosynthesis. Natural variation for leaf angle has been identified in maize and sorghum using multiple mapping populations. However, conventional phenotyping techniques for leaf angle are low throughput and labor intensive, and therefore hinder a mechanistic understanding of how the leaf angle of individual leaves changes over time in response to the environment.

METHODS: High-throughput time series image data from water-deprived maize (Zea mays subsp. mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) were obtained using battery-powered timelapse cameras. A MATLAB-based image processing framework, Leaf Angle eXtractor (LAX), was developed to extract and quantify leaf angles from images of maize and sorghum plants under drought conditions.

RESULTS: Leaf angle measurements showed differences in leaf responses to drought in maize and sorghum. Tracking leaf angle changes at intervals as short as one minute enabled distinguishing leaves that showed signs of wilting under water deprivation from other leaves on the same plant that did not show wilting during the same time period.

DISCUSSION: Automating leaf angle measurements using LAX makes it feasible to perform large-scale experiments to evaluate, understand, and exploit the spatial and temporal variations in plant response to water limitations.


This article is published as Kenchanmane Raju, Sunil K., Miles Adkins, Alex Enersen, Daniel Santana de Carvalho, Anthony J. Studer, Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Patrick S. Schnable, and James C. Schnable. "Leaf Angle eXtractor: A high‐throughput image processing framework for leaf angle measurements in maize and sorghum." Applications in Plant Sciences 8, no. 8 (2020): e11385. DOI: 10.1002/aps3.11385 . Posted with permission.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Kenchanmane Raju et al.



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