Rapid Excision Apparatus for Plants (REAPer): Design, Implementation, and Functionality

in HortScience
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  • 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory, 4331 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040
  • | 2 Department of Plant Biology, P.O. Box 871601, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287

Net primary productivity of a botanical is often determined by monitoring gas exchange rates (i.e., CO2, H2O) in a controlled-environment cuvette. Because atmospheric conditions (i.e., incident photon flux density, air temperature, and water vapor pressure) change within a day, whereas edaphic (i.e., soil-water content and nutrient availability) conditions change across days, experimental results obtained between treatment variants can often be confounded within the sample interval. Consequently, in order to obtain a “snapshot” of the CO2 and H2O flux of a botanical across treatment variants, all in situ measurements must be made within a discrete interval. One approach would be to use multiple cuvettes to measure CO2 and H2O flux across all treatment variants simultaneously. But, this would be expensive in both equipment and personnel cost. A more economical approach would be to rapidly excise a botanical from each treatment variant within a discrete interval and store them under exacting steady-state laboratory conditions for in vivo rather than in situ studies. However, this too can be problematic, because in order to excise a botanical a standard operating procedure (SOP) is required. Hence, a need exists for a Rapid Excision Apparatus for Plants (REAPer). Following the SOP of the REAPer enables personnel to excise a botanical across all treatment variants within a discrete interval, while maintaining xylem conductance, minimizing mechanical damage, and providing a uniform sample for in vivo rather then in situ studies. This work describes the design, implementation, and functionality of the REAPer, its application in basic research and development, and its potential applications in the commercial floral and horticultural industries.

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