University of Alberta biologists use light spectroscopy to study the functional diversity and evolutionary history of plants
Biologists get a new look at plant biodiversity and function with new imaging technology developed at the University of Alberta.
An example of the type of images captured by the imaging spectrometer. By exploring the colours of light reflected by the plants, researchers are able to identify subtle differences in plant function. Red represents sun induced fluorescence, green is chlorophyll content, and blue is the photochemical reflectance index, indicating plant stress and highlighting differences in photosynthetic performance
Credit: Ran Wang
"Biodiversity and ecosystem function are both changing with human disturbance and climate change, and our research provides a new tool for assessing these changes and renewed hope for improved environmental monitoring," explained John Gamon, professor in the Departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Biological Sciences and co-author in the study. "The information derived from this technology provides a practical way to address biodiversity and ecosystem function over large landscapes."
The method uses an imaging spectrometer, similar to a conventional camera but with a thousand colours, mounted on a moving robotic cart to measure the spectra of light reflected from plants in visible, near-infrared, and short-wave infrared regions to measure differences in plant traits. Differences in reflected radiation allow scientists to not only see more than what the naked eye allows, but also to sample both the functional diversity and evolutionary history of individual plants in the environment.
This work is of particular importance because, as was noted in a previous study, 2050 is expected to see a loss in world economic productivity as a result of global warming threatening one-fifth of vascular plant species. The technological advance presented in this study gives researchers a new tool to monitor biodiversity, combat these threats, and raise awareness of biodiversity importance.
Traditional methods of observing plant biodiversity require extensive time, money, and biologists in the field with in-depth knowledge of plant species to identify them. However, using remote sensing to observe and assess biodiversity, allows researchers to not only observe and cover much larger areas--including areas that may be hard to reach--but to reveal and observe the differences in plant diversity and function more quickly.
"To build a strong argument for protecting and restoring biodiversity globally, it is important to quantify the services biodiversity provides for us, including nutrition, clean water and air, safety, health and enjoyment," wrote Anna Schweiger, lead author of the study, in a blog post.
The technology was originally developed by John Gamon and Ran Wang, a former UAlberta PhD student as a part of his thesis work.
"The interdisciplinary nature of the research is key," said Gamon, in note of the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the study.
"Remote sensing--detecting the interaction of electromagnetic radiation and matter--is a fascinating place where physics meets plant physiology and ecology, and different plants display a range of different solutions to this, allowing us to detect plant diversity.
"Here at UAlberta, we developed new ways of measuring these interactions involving new imaging spectrometers and robotic carts, both of which were instrumental in this study. Taxonomic, physiological and evolutionary perspectives, spectral data analysis, image processing and a lot of powerful statistics, were combined in this work, a good example of team science."
The paper, "Plant spectral diversity integrates functional and phylogenetic components of biodiversity and predicts ecosystem function," was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution (doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0551-1).
Katie Willis | EurekAlert!
UTSA researchers create method that can quickly and accurately detect infections
12.06.2018 | University of Texas at San Antonio
Researchers discover new type of stem cell state
12.06.2018 | American University
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
28.05.2018 | Event News
12.06.2018 | Life Sciences
12.06.2018 | Life Sciences
12.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy