Photoprotective Response in Plants Impacts Estimation of Biophysical Parameters Using Spectral Reflectance

Friday, 19 December 2014
Arthur I Zygielbaum, Timothy J Arkebauer and Elizabeth Walter-Shea, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States
Previously, we reported that reflectance increased across the whole PAR spectrum when plants were subjected to water stress. This effect was shown to exist in maize grown under greenhouse conditions and under field conditions. Greenhouse experiments showed that, in addition to leaf water content, the effect was strongly correlated with incident light intensity. Further, through the use of an integrating sphere, we demonstrated that the change in reflectance was due to a change in absorption rather than in a change scattering or other optical path effect. Time lapse microscopy showed lightening between leaf veins analogous to effects measured by researchers observing cross sections of stressed C4 plants. To further refine our study, additional leaf level and canopy level studies were undertaken. Excised leaf sections were separately exposed to red and white light in the laboratory as the leaf dried.  Increasing reflectance and transmittance were observed for the section exposed to white light, while little change was observed under red light. Each of these observations can be explained by chloroplast avoidance movement, a photoprotective response causing chloroplasts to aggregate along cell walls effectively hiding chlorophyll from observation. Chloroplast movement, for example, is driven by blue light; explaining the lack of observed change under red light. Estimation of biophysical parameters, such as chlorophyll content and greenness, are affected by the difference between the “apparent” chlorophyll content and the actual chlorophyll content of leaves and canopies. Up to 30% changes in the VARI remote sensing index have been observed morning to afternoon in field-grown maize. Ten percent changes in chlorophyll estimates have been observed in greenhouse maize. We will report on further research and on the extension of our work to include the impact of chloroplast avoidance on remote sensing of C3 plants, specifically soybean, at leaf and canopy levels.