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Andrew Leakey

Profile picture for Andrew Leakey

Contact Information

1206 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana IL. 61801

Head and Professor, Plant Biology

Research Interests

Integrative plant physiology, genetics and genomics; plant water use efficiency, photosynthesis and carbon metabolism; crop responses to elevated CO2, drought, temperature and ozone; crop sustainability and responses to global environmental change

Research Description

Our research broadly addresses the need to improve mechanistic understanding of:

  1. Plant water use efficiency, photosynthesis, respiration and water relations;
  2. Plant responses in natural and agricultural ecosystems to global environmental change; and
  3. Adaptation of food and fuel crops to global environmental change, especially drought

This will enhance understanding of how the environment impacts ecosystem goods and services and advance efforts to improve and protect crop production and water cycling. To do this we perform vertically integrated phenotyping of plant carbon and water relations by combining genetic, molecular, biochemical, physiological and ecological tools to assess plant performance in manipulative field experiments and controlled environment conditions.

The major focus of our group at present is to understand the genetic and physiological controls of stomatal patterning and photosynthetic water use efficiency (WUE) through a combination of molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, and physiology. This has practical application through our efforts to use biotechnology and breeding to enhance WUE through manipulation of stomatal patterning. The project will benefit substantially from significant advances made by our team and collaborators in recent years in: 

  1. high-throughput phenotyping of stomatal patterning and stomatal conductance
  2. development of transgenic germplasm and natural diversity collections, and
  3. a new large-scale field facility for imposing drought treatments.


B.Sc. 1998, University of Sheffield
Ph.D. 2003, University of Sheffield
Fulbright Scholar 2002-2003, UIUC
Postdoc. 2003-2004, University of Illinois
Research Fellow 2004-2007, Institute for Genomic Biology

Awards and Honors

Fulbright Scholar (2002)
Beckman Fellow (2011)
I.C. Gunsalus Fellow (2013)
Calvin-Benson Award for Early Career Excellence in Photosynthesis Research (2016)
University Scholar (2017)
AAAS Fellow (2019)
Massengale Lecturer, CSSA (2020)
Teacher Ranked Excellent by Students (2020, 2018, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Michael Aiken Chair, Plant Biology
Head, Plant Biology
Professor, Plant Biology
Affiliate Professor, Crop Sciences
Professor, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Director, Center for Advanced Bioenergy & Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

Recent Publications

Ahmed, M. W., Esquerre, C. A., Eilts, K., Allen, D. P., McCoy, S. M., Varela, S., Singh, V., Leakey, A. D. B., & Kamruzzaman, M. (2024). Rapid and high-throughput determination of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) biomass composition using near infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics. Biomass and Bioenergy, 186, Article 107276.

Busch, F. A., Ainsworth, E. A., Amtmann, A., Cavanagh, A. P., Driever, S. M., Ferguson, J. N., Kromdijk, J., Lawson, T., Leakey, A. D. B., Matthews, J. S. A., Meacham-Hensold, K., Vath, R. L., Vialet-Chabrand, S., Walker, B. J., & Papanatsiou, M. (Accepted/In press). A guide to photosynthetic gas exchange measurements: Fundamental principles, best practice and potential pitfalls. Plant Cell and Environment.

Wang, S., Edupulapati, B., Hagel, J. M., Kwok, J. J., Quebedeaux, J. C., Khasbaatar, A., Baek, J. M., Davies, D. W., Ella Elangovan, K., Wheeler, R. M., Leakey, A. D. B., Hill, C. W., Varnavas, K. A., & Diao, Y. (2024). Highly stretchable, robust, and resilient wearable electronics for remote, autonomous plant growth monitoring. Device, 2(4), Article 100322.

Ahmed, M. W., Esquerre, C., Singh, V., Leakey, A. D. B., & Kamruzzaman, M. (2023). NIR spectroscopy and chemometrics for detecting some selected components of lipid-producing sorghum biomass for biofuels. In 2023 ASABE Annual International Meeting (2023 ASABE Annual International Meeting). American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Aspray, E. K., Mies, T. A., McGrath, J. A., Montes, C. M., Dalsing, B., Puthuval, K. K., Whetten, A., Herriott, J., Li, S., Bernacchi, C. J., DeLucia, E. H., Leakey, A. D. B., Long, S. P., McGrath, J. M., Miglietta, F., Ort, D. R., & Ainsworth, E. A. (2023). Two decades of fumigation data from the Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment facility. Scientific Data, 10(1), Article 226.

View all publications on Illinois Experts