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

Monitoring of cold and light stress impact on photosynthesis by using the laser induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) approach

Roland Pieruschka A B E , Denis Klimov C , Zbigniew S. Kolber D and Joseph A. Berry B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Forschungszentrum Jülich, Phytosphäre ICG III, 52425 Jülich, Germany.

B Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Global Ecology, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

C Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA.

D Institute of Marine Sciences, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 37(5) 395-402
Submitted: 5 November 2009  Accepted: 26 January 2010   Published: 30 April 2010


Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements have been widely applied to quantify the photosynthetic efficiency of plants non-destructively. The most commonly used pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) technique provides a saturating light pulse, which is not practical at the canopy scale. We report here on a recently developed technique, laser induced fluorescence transient (LIFT), which is capable of remotely measuring the photosynthetic efficiency of selected leaves at a distance of up to 50 m. The LIFT approach correlated well with gas exchange measurements under laboratory conditions and was tested in a field experiment monitoring the combined effect of low temperatures and high light intensity on a variety of plants during the early winter in California. We observed a reduction in maximum and effective quantum yield in electron transport for Capsicum annuum L., Lycopersicon esculentum L. and Persea americana Mill. as the temperatures fell, while a grass community was not affected by combined low temperature and high light stress. The ability to make continuous, automatic and remote measurements of the photosynthetic efficiency of leaves with the LIFT system provides a new approach for studying and monitoring of stress effects on the canopy scale.

Additional keywords: avocado, chilling stress, chlorophyll fluorescence, electron transport rate, evergreen plant, pepper, PSII efficiency, remote sensing, tomato.


Barry Osmond and Uwe Rascher played an important role in initiating this project and provided many helpful comments. We are very grateful to Larry Giles and Todd Tobeck for valuable help in performing the experiments. RP was supported by Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowships (Nr: 041060 – LIFT).


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