Unraveling the effects of blue light in an artificial solar background light on growth of tomato plants

Pavlos Kalaitzoglou, Craig Taylor, Kim Calders, Maikel Hogervorst, Wim van Ieperen, Jeremy Harbinson, Pieter de Visser, Celine C.S. Nicole, Leo F.M. Marcelis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


While the use of narrowband irradiance regimes containing different blue light fractions has proven useful to unravel blue light effects on plants at a fundamental level, it does not quantify the responses to blue light under natural daylight conditions. The objective of this study is to understand the blue light growth responses by combining photosynthetic measurements with measurements of whole plant light absorption in a simulated daylight spectrum enriched with different levels of blue light. To achieve this, tomato plants were grown under six different combinations of artificial solar light and blue LED light. Light treatments were defined by the blue light (400–500 nm) fraction of total photosynthetic photon flux density (400–700 nm) and included 27 % (no additional blue LED), 28 %, 31 %, 38 %, 43 % and 61 % blue light with a total photosynthetic photon flux density of 100 μmol m−2 s-1 in all treatments. Whole plant light absorption was estimated by using ray tracing simulation combined with measured 3-dimensional structure of the plant and optical properties of the leaves. The total dry weight of the plants decreased linearly with the increase of blue light fraction; the dry weight of the plants grown under 27 % blue being 1.6 times greater than that of the plants grown under 61 % blue. This large difference was related to lower light absorption by the plants when fraction blue light increased, due to more compact morphology, i.e. lower leaf area, leaf length/width ratio and shorter stem. Light-limited quantum yield and maximum photosynthetic capacity were not affected by blue light fraction. In the case of the latter, which in other studies has often been found to be positively related to blue light fraction, it may be that the blue light fraction already present in the daylight source had saturated this response. Overall, increasing the blue light fraction in a solar light background decreases growth mainly through its effect on plant morphology and light interception. It remains to be elucidated whether the responses observed using the low growth light intensity in the present study are maintained in high light growth environments more characteristic for tomato growth and production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104377
JournalEnvironmental and Experimental Botany
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Blue light
  • LEDs
  • Light absorption
  • Photomorphogenesis
  • Shade avoidance
  • Tomato


Dive into the research topics of 'Unraveling the effects of blue light in an artificial solar background light on growth of tomato plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this