Experimental and modeling evidence of carbon limitation of leaf appearance rate for spring and winter wheat

Maeva Baumont, Boris Parent*, Loïc Manceau, Hamish E. Brown, Steven M. Driever, Bertrand Muller, Pierre Martre

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate predictions of the timing of physiological stages and the development rate are crucial for predicting crop performance under field conditions. Plant development is controlled by the leaf appearance rate (LAR) and our understanding of how LAR responds to environmental factors is still limited. Here, we tested the hypothesis that carbon availability may account for the effects of irradiance, photoperiod, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and ontogeny on LAR. We conducted three experiments in growth chambers to quantify and disentangle these effects for both winter and spring wheat cultivars. Variations of LAR observed between environmental scenarios were well explained by the supply/demand ratio for carbon, quantified using the photothermal quotient. We therefore developed an ecophysiological model based on the photothermal quotient that accounts for the effects of temperature, irradiance, photoperiod, and ontogeny on LAR. Comparisons of observed leaf stages and LAR with simulations from our model, from a linear thermal-time model, and from a segmented linear thermal-time model corrected for sowing date showed that our model can simulate the observed changes in LAR in the field with the lowest error. Our findings demonstrate that a hypothesis-driven approach that incorporates more physiology in specific processes of crop models can increase their predictive power under variable environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2449-2462
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2019


  • SiriusQuality
  • Carbon
  • crop model
  • daylength
  • leaf appearance rate
  • photoperiod
  • photothermal quotient
  • phyllochron
  • temperature
  • wheat


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