Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Use of infrared thermography for monitoring crassulacean acid metabolism

Bronwyn J. Barkla A B and Timothy Rhodes A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Southern Cross Plant Science, Southern Cross University, Military Road, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: bronwyn.barkla@scu.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 44(1) 46-51 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP16210
Submitted: 9 June 2016  Accepted: 31 August 2016   Published: 5 October 2016

Abstract

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is an alternative carbon fixation pathway that imparts high water-use efficiency in plants adapted to warm, semiarid climates. With concerns that global warming will negatively influence crop production, turning agricultural focus towards CAM plants may provide a solution to increase productivity using either unconventional crops on marginal land or incorporating CAM molecular mechanisms into conventional crops and improving water-use efficiency. For this to be feasible, deeper insights into CAM pathway regulation are essential. To facilitate this research new tools which simplify procedures for detecting and measuring CAM are needed. Here we describe a non-invasive, non-destructive, simplified method using infrared thermography for monitoring CAM in the annual desert succulent Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L. via detection of changes in leaf temperature brought about by the absence of transpiration due to daytime reduction in stomatal conductance. This method is sensitive, measuring temperature differences of ± 1°C, can be used in both the field and green house and is not restricted by leaf architecture. It offers an alternative to the commonly used gas exchange methods to measure CAM that are technically difficult to acquire and require the use of expensive and cumbersome equipment.

Additional keywords: ice plant, imaging, leaf temperature, gas exchange, salinity, transpiration.


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