Effects of green light on plant growth are relatively understudied, and published results are contradictory. Although per unit leaf area, green light drives photosynthesis less efficiently than does red light, on a whole-plant level green light may increase growth due to changes in vertical light distribution, leaf light acclimation and canopy architecture. As most studies were conducted on small plants with compact stems, positive effects may have remained unnoticed. In a greenhouse experiment, a tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) crop was exposed to 7, 20 or 39% of green light in a background of narrow bandwidth red and blue light, as well as sunlight, for 76 days. The intensity supplied by lamps (171 μmol m−2 s−1) and the red:blue ratio were similar between treatments. Adding green light (+32%) to the spectrum significantly and linearly increased plant biomass and yield (+6.5%). With increasing green light percentage, there were tendencies for linear increases in leaf biomass (P = 0.06), specific leaf area (P = 0.09), stem biomass (P = 0.07), stem length (P = 0.05) and number of internodes (P = 0.05). In the top and middle leaf layers of the canopy, net photosynthesis rate, stomatal conductance and leaf thickness were unaffected by the treatment while in leaves in the middle leaf layer, chlorophyll a:b ratio and carotenoid concentrations increased with the percentage of green light. This study shows that partial replacement of red by green light increases growth of plants in dense canopies and suggests that the combined effects of a light spectrum on plant growth are more than the sum of wavelength effects on photosynthetic efficiency.
- Light spectrum; Green light; Light use efficiency; Solanum lycopersicum