Consequences of interplant trait variation for canopy light absorption and photosynthesis

Maarten van der Meer, Hyeran Lee, Pieter H.B. de Visser, Ep Heuvelink, Leo F.M. Marcelis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Plant-to-plant variation (interplant variation) may play an important role in determining individual plant and whole canopy performance, where interplant variation in architecture and photosynthesis traits has direct effects on light absorption and photosynthesis. We aimed to quantify the importance of observed interplant variation on both whole-plant and canopy light absorption and photosynthesis. Plant architecture was measured in two experiments with fruiting tomato crops (Solanum lycopersicum) grown in glasshouses in the Netherlands, in week 16 (Exp. 1) or week 19 (Exp. 2) after transplanting. Experiment 1 included four cultivars grown under three supplementary lighting treatments, and Experiment 2 included two different row orientations. Measured interplant variations of the architectural traits, namely, internode length, leaf area, petiole angle, and leaflet angle, as well as literature data on the interplant variation of the photosynthesis traits alpha, Jmax28, and Vcmax28, were incorporated in a static functional–structural plant model (FSPM). The FSPM was used to analyze light absorption and net photosynthesis of whole plants in response to interplant variation in architectural and photosynthesis traits. Depending on the trait, introducing interplant variation in architecture and photosynthesis traits in a functional–structural plant model did not affect or negatively affected canopy light absorption and net photosynthesis compared with the reference model without interplant variation. Introducing interplant variation of architectural and photosynthesis traits in FSPM results in a more realistic simulation of variation of plants within a canopy. Furthermore, it can improve the accuracy of simulation of canopy light interception and photosynthesis although these effects at the canopy level are relatively small (<4% for light absorption and<7% for net photosynthesis).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1012718
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


  • functional–structural plant model (FSPM)
  • interplant variation
  • light absorption
  • photosynthesis
  • plant-to-plant variation
  • tomato


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