(454) Detecting Plant Stress by Chlorophyll Fluorescence

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  • 1 1University of Massachusetts, Plant and Soil Sciences, Amherst, MA, 01003
  • | 2 2GrowTech, Inc., Waltham, MA, 02452

The stress level in a plant may be directly associated with the intensity of the Kautsky effect (the sudden increase in fluorescence emission by chlorophyll following a dark adaptation). The decrease in photosynthetic efficiency, linked with the rate of photochemistry of plants under stress, provides a definitive signature (graphical pattern) that can be quantified and monitored, even for plants that have no visible stress symptoms. Using a prototype GrowScanner®, signature differences in plants under nitrogen and water stress, as compared with plants not under stress, could be detected and measured. Returning stressed plants to a nonstressed condition returned the stress signatures to that of control plants not under stress. Development of the technology may provide a relatively quick, presymptomatic methodology for detecting plant stress without sacrificing plant tissue.

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