Modelling Reproductive Failure in Maize using APSIM

The APSIM maize model was modified to allow a grain cohort approach to simulate the dynamics of different modes of reproductive failure under drought stress at different stages of plant growth.

Reproductive failure under drought in maize (Zea mays) is a major cause of instability in global food systems. While there has been extensive research on maize reproductive physiology, it has not been formalized in mathematical form to enable the study and prediction of emergent phenotypes, physiological epistasis and pleiotropy. We developed a quantitative synthesis organized as a dynamical model for cohorting of reproductive structures along the ear while accounting for carbon and water supply and demand balances. The model can simulate the dynamics of silk initiation, elongation, fertilization and kernel growth, and can generate well-known emergent phenotypes such as the relationship between plant growth, anthesis-silking interval, kernel number and yield, as well as ear phenotypes under drought (e.g. tip kernel abortion). Simulation of field experiments with controlled drought conditions showed that predictions tracked well the observed response of yield and yield components to timing of water deficit. This framework represents a significant improvement from previous approaches to simulate reproductive physiology in maize. We envisage opportunities for this predictive capacity to advance our understanding of maize reproductive biology by informing experimentation, supporting breeding and increasing productivity in maize.

The full article can be accessed here:

Please note that this model isn’t in the official release as it has not been through the AI Reference Panel review process.

The code can be downloaded here

The data used can be downloaded here