Twelve-foot metal poles with long outstretched arms dot a Midwestern soybean field to monitor an invisible array of light emitted by crops. This light can reveal the plants' photosynthetic performance throughout the growing season, according to newly published research by the University of Illinois.
"Photosynthetic performance is a key trait to monitor as it directly translates to yield potential," said Kaiyu Guan, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the principal investigator of this research. "This method enables us to rapidly and nondestructively monitor how well plants perform in various conditions like never before."
Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, the Illinois team led by Guofang Miao, a postdoctoral researcher in ACES and the lead author of the paper, report the first continuous field season to use sun-induced fluorescence (SIF) data to determine how soybeans respond to fluctuating light levels and environmental stresses.
"Since the recent discovery of using satellite SIF signals to measure photosynthesis, scientists have been exploring the potential to apply SIF technology to better agricultural ecosystems," said study collaborator Carl Bernacchi, an associate professor of plant science at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). "This research advances our understanding of crop physiology and SIF at a local scale, which will pave the way for satellite observations to monitor plant health and yields over vast areas of cropland."
Photosynthesis is the process where plants convert light energy into sugars and other carbohydrates that eventually become our food or biofuel. However, one to two percent of the plant's absorbed light energy is emitted as fluorescent light that is proportional to the rate of photosynthesis.
Researchers capture this process using hyperspectral sensors to detect fluctuations in photosynthesis over the growing season. They designed this continuous study to better understand the relationship between absorbed light, emitted fluorescent light, and the rate of photosynthesis. "We want to find out whether this proportional relationship is consistent across various ecosystems, especially between crops and wild ecosystems such as forests and savannas," said Miao.
"We are also testing the applicability of this technology for crop phenotyping to link key traits with their underlying genes," said co-author Katherine Meacham, a postdoctoral researcher at the IGB.
"SIF technology can help us transform phenotyping from a manual endeavor requiring large teams of researchers and expensive equipment to an efficient, automated process," said co-author Caitlin Moore, also a postdoctoral researcher at the IGB.
A network of SIF sensors has been deployed across the U.S. to evaluate croplands and other natural ecosystems. Guan's lab has launched two other long-term SIF systems in Nebraska to compare rainfed and irrigated fields in corn-soybean rotations. "By applying this technology to different regions, we can ensure the efficacy of this tool in countless growing conditions for a myriad of plants," said Xi Yang, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia, who designed this study's SIF monitoring system.
"Our ability to link SIF data at the leaf, canopy and regional scales will facilitate the improvement of models that forecast crop yields," Guan said. "Our ultimate goal is to monitor the photosynthetic efficiency of any field across the world to evaluate crop conditions and forecast crop yields on a global scale in real time."
This work was supported by the NASA New Investigator Award, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), a NASA Interdisciplinary Science Award and the TERRA-MEPP (Mobile Energy-Crop Phenotyping Platform) research project that is funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The paper "Sun-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence, Photosynthesis, and Light Use Efficiency of a Soybean Field from Seasonally Continuous Measurements" is available online (DOI: 10.1002/2017JG004180) or by request. Co-authors also include Joseph A. Berry, Evan H. DeLucia, Jin Wu, Yaping Cai, Bin Peng, Hyungsuk Kimm, and Michael D. Masters.
TERRA-MEPP (Mobile Energy-Crop Phenotyping Platform) is a research project that is developing a low-cost phenotyping robot to identify top-performing crops. TERRA-MEPP is led by the University of Illinois in partnership with Cornell University and Signetron Inc. and is supported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Claire Benjamin | EurekAlert!
Faba fix for corn's nitrogen need
11.04.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
Wheat research discovery yields genetic secrets that could shape future crops
09.04.2018 | John Innes Centre
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses