Understanding the net photosynthesis of plant canopies requires quantifying photosynthesis in challenging environments, principally due to the variable light intensities and qualities generated by sunlight interactions with clouds and surrounding foliage. The dynamics of sunflecks and rates of change in light intensity at the beginning and end of sustained light (SL) events makes photosynthetic measurements difficult, especially when dealing with less accessible parts of plant foliage. High time resolved photosynthetic monitoring from pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometers has limited applicability due to the invasive nature of frequently applied saturating flashes. An alternative approach used here provides remote (<5 >m), high time resolution (10 s), PAM equivalent but minimally invasive measurements of photosynthetic parameters. We assessed the efficacy of the QA flash protocol from the Light-Induced Fluorescence Transient (LIFT) technique for monitoring photosynthesis in mature outer canopy leaves of potted Persea americana Mill. cv. Haas (Avocado) trees in a semi-controlled environment and outdoors. Initially we established that LIFT measurements were leaf angle independent between ±40° from perpendicular and moreover, that estimates of 685 nm reflectance (R685) from leaves of similar chlorophyll content provide a species dependent, but reasonable proxy for incident light intensity. Photosynthetic responses during brief light events (≤10 min), and the initial stages of SL events, showed similar declines in the quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦII) with large transient increases in 'constitutive loss processes' (ΦNO) prior to dissipation of excitation by non-photochemical quenching (ΦNPQ). Our results demonstrate the capacity of LIFT to monitor photosynthesis at a distance during highly dynamic light conditions that potentially may improve models of canopy photosynthesis and estimates of plant productivity. For example, generalized additive modelling performed on the 85 dynamic light events monitored identified negative relationships between light event length and ∆ΦII and ∆electron transport rate using either ∆photosynthetically active radiation or ∆R685 as indicators of leaf irradiance.
Available for download on Thursday, December 27, 2018