Science News 04/06/2012

Plant could produce more also with less pigments

The scientists discovered that leaf pigments not directly involved in photosynthesis dissipate light by absorption rather than using it effectively

Scientists around the world have been studying issues related to how plants use light colours for photosynthesis for over 70 years. Now research into the effectiveness of photosynthesis in various light conditions has answered some of the most important questions. It has shown that plants efficiently adapt their leaves to the light colours present where they grow. In this way they use the available light as effectively as possible. The research also demonstrated how specific combinations of various light colours result in more photosynthesis than the sum of the individual light colours. This insight is relevant, among other things, for minimising energy consumption in the lighting of horticultural greenhouses.

While these non-photosynthetic pigments do absorb light, they do not use it for photosynthesis. This discovery could lead to the development of plants that produce more food by reducing the amount of these non-photosynthetic pigments. This mainly applies to 'protected' cultivation, such as in greenhouses, as at least some of the non-photosynthetic pigments have a protective function, for instance against too much UV light or insect damage. These factors are less relevant in indoor cultivation than in open fields.


Sander W. Hogewoning, Emilie Wientjes, Peter Douwstra, Govert Trouwborst, Wim van Ieperen, Roberta Croce, and Jeremy Harbinson. Photosynthetic Quantum Yield Dynamics: From Photosystems to Leaves. Plant Cell, May 22, 2012 DOI: 10.1105/tpc.112.097972

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