Light distribution in leaf chambers and its consequences for photosynthesis measurements

S.W. Hogewoning, G. Trouwborst, J. Harbinson, W. van Ieperen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of a heterogeneous distribution of actinic light within a leaf chamber for photosynthetic measurements by gas exchange on the photosynthesis-irradiance relationship was investigated. High-resolution light distributions were measured over the area of a commercially available clamp-on leaf chamber equipped with build-in red and blue LEDs, as well as over the area of a custom-made leaf chamber with external light source, using a low-cost digital camera and freely available software. The impact of the measured heterogeneity on the photosynthesis-irradiance response curve was calculated for two realistic scenarios. When the average light intensity over the leaf chamber area was estimated accurately, heterogeneity had minor effects on the photosynthesis-irradiance response curve. However, when the irradiance was measured in the chamber centre, which is common practice, and assumed to be homogeneous, for both leaf chambers the photosynthesis-irradiance response curve was subject to considerable error and led to serious underestimation of the light-limited quantum yield of photosynthesis. Additionally, mixed light sources with different heterogeneity patterns per light source, such as in the clamp-on leaf chamber, potentially increase errors due to heterogeneous physiological responses to light spectrum. High-resolution quantification of the leaf-chamber light distribution enables calculation of the correct average light intensity and already resolves the most pressing problems associated with heterogeneity. To exclude any light-distribution related errors in gas-exchange measurements a leaf chamber and actinic irradiance source design with a homogeneous light distribution is an absolute requirement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-226
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • quantum yield
  • leaves
  • model
  • plants
  • parameters
  • diffusion
  • growth
  • co2


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