Growth and Carbohydrate Metabolism of Wheat Plants Grown with Red-light Emitting Diodes

in HortScience
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  • 1 1Dynamac Corp., Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
  • | 2 2NRC Research Associate, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a potential light source for growing plants in space flight systems because of their superior safety and reliability, small mass and volume, electrical efficiency, and longevity. To determine the influence of narrow-spectrum LEDs on plant growth and metabolism, wheat (Triticum aestivum L. `Superdwarf') plants were grown under red LEDs (peak emission 660 nm) and compared to plants grown under daylight fluorescent, red LEDs + 1% blue fluorescent light (BL), and red LEDs + 10% BL. Plants were taller, had longer flag leaves, and delayed seed development when grown under red LEDs or red LEDs + 1% BL compared to those grown with 10% BL or under daylight fluorescent. Viable seeds (290% germination) were produced in all plants regardless of the light treatment. Total dry matter (DM), head DM, and seed DM were similar in the plants grown under the four light regimes, and there were no differences in the starch content of the seeds. Starch levels were 4-times greater and sucrose levels were 2.5-times greater in leaves of plants grown under the red LEDs compared to daylight fluorescent. Daylight fluorescent leaves showed a 1.8-fold increase in sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) activity, a regulatory enzyme of sucrose synthesis. These results indicate that wheat can be grown successfully under red LEDs, but there are differences in carbohydrate concentration and metabolism in photosynthetic tissue.

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