Growth and Photomorphogenesis of Pepper Plants under Red Light-emitting Diodes with Supplemental Blue or Far-red Lighting

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code DYN-3, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
  • | 2 Walt Disney World Co., The Land, Epcot, P.O. Box 10,000, Luke Buena Vista, FL 32830
  • | 3 NASA Biomedical Operations and Research Office, Mail Code MD-RES, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a potential irradiation source for intensive plant culture systems and photobiological research. They have small size, low mass, a long functional life, and narrow spectral output. In this study, we measured the growth and dry matter partitioning of `Hungarian Wax' pepper (Capsicum annum L.) plants grown under red LEDs compared with similar plants grown under red LEDs with supplemental blue or far-red radiation or under broad spectrum metal halide (MH) lamps. Additionally, we describe the thermal and spectra1 characteristics of these sources. The LEDs used in this study had a narrow bandwidth at half peak height (25 nm) and a focused maximum spectral output at 660 nm for the red and 735 nm for the far-red. Near infrared radiation (800 to 3000 nm) was below detection and thermal infrared radiation (3000 to 50,000 nm) was lower in the LEDs compared to the MH source. Although the red to far-red ratio varied considerably, the calculated phytochrome photostationary state (φ) was only slightly different between the radiation sources. Plant biomass was reduced when peppers were grown under red LEDs in the absence of blue wavelengths compared to plants grown under supplemental blue fluorescent lamps or MH lamps. The addition of far-red radiation resulted in taller plants with greater stem mass than red LEDs alone. There were fewer leaves under red or red plus far-red radiation than with lamps producing blue wavelengths. These results indicate that red LEDs may be suitable, in proper combination with other wavelengths of light, for the culture of plants in tightly controlled environments such as space-based plant culture systems.

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