April 16, 2019
April 9, 2019
Life as we know it would be impossible without photosynthesis. Outside of providing the essential elements that support life on earth, photosynthesis is of special importance to the food and agriculture industry, as well as for ecologists studying climate change. In addition, there are many commercial enterprises which depend heavily on photosynthesis. As a result, there are a plethora of methods to measure photosynthesis. Some modern methods are accurate enough to be useful not just for commercial use, but also in laboratories and research projects.
Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and microbes manufacture food. They need carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, which enters the plant through leaves, and water (H2O) from the soil, which roots absorb. Light captured by chlorophyll in the leaves combines water and carbon dioxide to produce glucose (C6H12O6) and oxygen (O2).
The equation for photosynthesis is:
6CO2 + 6H2O + Sunlight ----------> C6H12O6 + 6O2
The glucose undergoes various reactions with other minerals to produce sugars, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, volatile compounds, etc.
Without photosynthesis, much of life on Earth wouldn’t exist. Animals depend on it, and so do people.
All of our plant and animal-based food depends on photosynthesis, and so do the plants producing wood for timber, fiber for clothes, etc. Photosynthetic analysis is, therefore, important for various industries associated with:
Many disciplines of science are engaged in monitoring plant health, such as:
Photosynthesis is how plants produce the biomass needed to grow and produce flowers and fruit or grain.
In all cases, whether in the laboratory or in the field, measuring photosynthesis is a necessity.
Since photosynthesis is a chemical reaction, its levels are monitored by the rate of occurrence. Changes in the levels of its inputs and outputs are used to calculate the photosynthetic rate. Thus, there are various methods to measure photosynthesis:
Gas exchange is used most often as the way to measure photosynthesis, and there are a few different techniques. CO2 measurement uses infrared light, while O2 measurement requires electrochemical sensors.
Gas analyzers are used either with a closed system or open system. Open systems are more popular since temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentrations in the chambers can be controlled.
CID Bio-Science’s CI-340 Handheld Photosynthesis System is a portable and handheld tool that measures photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, stomatal conductance, PAR and internal CO2. It comes with an accompanying software and USB cable for downloading data.
Open and closed IRGA systems. Image credits: (Illustration by Alan Rhodes, Mulkey & Smith 1998)
CID Bio-Science’s F-920 Gas Analyzer, which measures 0-100% of CO2 and O2, is an example of a tool that can be used with both open and closed systems. It is handheld and light, and functions in a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. Results are available within six seconds, and a data logger can store 1000s of readings. Data can be transferred through USB or Bluetooth for analysis to computers and other devices.
The company also supplies all the necessary accessories that are needed. These include a choice of
• Eight open system chambers that come in different sizes and for different kinds of leaves.
• Four closed system leaf chambers that in a size range from ¼ to 4 liters.
The objective of the measurement and the plant species studied will determine the correct timing for measuring photosynthesis.
You can find out more on the topic of photosynthesis and measuring photosynthesis from the following articles.
There is a saying, “An artist is only as good as his/her tools". This goes for industries as well. Instruments have to be precise in the field and the laboratory. Precision agriculture, as its name indicates, can be possible only through advanced science and the wide availability of such tools. CID Bio-Science’s gas analyzers are affordable and are accompanied by strong support to make them more attractive. Not surprisingly, CID Bio-Science’s gas analyzers are depended on by researchers as well as producers.
Science Writer, CID Bio-Science
Ph.D. Ecology and Environmental Science, B.Sc Agriculture
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Baker, N. R. Chlorophyll fluorescence: a probe of photosynthesis in vivo. Annu Rev Plant Biol. 59:89-113. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092759
BBC. What is photosynthesis? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/articles/zn4sv9q
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories (2017, August 21). Biofuels from bacteria: New clean energy source? ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170821135052.html
Hans Lambers, H., & Bassham, J. A. (2019, February 6). Photosynthesis. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/photosynthesis
Majer, P. (2013, June). Measuring photosynthesis by gas exchange systems. Retrieved from
NEON Science. (2014, October 22). How we measure photosynthesis. [Video Film]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlEzyZadA90
Researchgate (2017, Nov, 11). What is the best time of the day to measure leaf physiological responses (Photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, and stomatal conductance)? Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/post/Dear_all_What_is_the_best_time_of_the_day_to_measure_leaf_physiological_responses_Photosynthetic_rate_transpiration_rate_and_stomatal_conductanc
Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/electrochemical-sensors
Science and Plants for Schools. Measuring the rate of photosynthesis. Retrieved from http://www.saps.org.uk/secondary/teaching-resources/157-measuring-the-rate-of-photosynthesis
Featured photo image credit: Whologwhy
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