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  • Author or Editor: Kevin R. Cope x
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Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a rapidly developing technology for plant growth lighting and have become a powerful tool for understanding the spectral effects of light on plants. Several studies have shown that some blue light is necessary for normal growth and development, but the effects of blue light appear to be species-dependent and may interact with other wavelengths of light as well as photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). We report the photobiological effects of three types of white LEDs (warm, neutral, and cool, with 11%, 19%, and 28% blue light, respectively) on the growth and development of radish, soybean, and wheat. All species were grown at two PPFs (200 and 500 μmol·m−2·s−1) under each LED type, which facilitated testing the effect of absolute (μmol photons per m−2·s−1) and relative (percent of total PPF) blue light on plant development. Root and shoot environmental conditions other than light quality were uniformly maintained among six chambers (three lamp types × two PPFs). All LEDs had similar phytochrome photoequilibria and red:far red ratios. Blue light did not affect total dry weight (DW) in any species but significantly altered plant development. Overall, the low blue light from warm white LEDs increased stem elongation and leaf expansion, whereas the high blue light from cool white LEDs resulted in more compact plants. For radish and soybean, absolute blue light was a better predictor of stem elongation than relative blue light, but relative blue light better predicted leaf area. Absolute blue light better predicted the percent leaf DW in radish and soybean and percent tiller DW in wheat. The largest percentage differences among light sources occurred in low light (200 μmol·m−2·s−1). These results confirm and extend the results of other studies indicating that light quantity and quality interact to determine plant morphology. The optimal amount of blue light likely changes with plant age because plant communities balance the need for rapid leaf expansion, which is necessary to maximize radiation capture, with prevention of excessive stem elongation. A thorough understanding of this interaction is essential to the development of light sources for optimal plant growth and development.

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