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Kun Li, Qi-Chang Yang, Yu-Xin Tong and Ruifeng Cheng

In this study, the effects of light-emitting diode (LED) panels with different illumination schedules and mounted above butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. capitata) seedlings on lettuce growth and photosynthesis were examined, and the performance of the vertical and horizontal movable system on energy savings was evaluated. The illumination schedules used were fixed LED [F-LED (four LED panels illuminated the area below)] and movable LED [M-LED (two LED panels moved left and right once per day to illuminate the same area as F-LED)] at distances of 10 and 30 cm above the seedlings. The plant yields were uniform in all LED treatments. The highest light utilization efficiencies and lowest electricity consumption were found for the treatments with irradiation from a shorter distance above the seedlings. The true leaf numbers and ascorbic acid concentrations were the highest in the M-LED and F-LED treatments at a distance above the seedlings of 10 cm, while the leaf lengths and sucrose concentrations in these groups were significantly lower than those in the 30-cm treatment. These results indicate that illumination with M-LED can halve the initial light source input while maintaining yield and that sustained illumination from a shorter distance above the seedlings is the main factor in electricity savings.

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Lie Li, Yu-xin Tong, Jun-ling Lu, Yang-mei Li and Qi-chang Yang

Light, as the energy and signal sources for plant growth and development, is one of the most important environment factors in recently developed plant factories with artificial light (PFALs). To find the optimal combination of light wavelengths for lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv. ‘Tiberius’) plant growth in a PFAL, four treatments, each using red (R; 662 nm) and blue light (B; 447 nm) with a ratio of 4:1 and photon flux density (PFD) of 150 μmol·m−2·s−1, and mixing, respectively, with 50 μmol·m−2·s−1 of green light (G; 525 nm; RBG), yellow light (Y; 592 nm; RBY), orange light (O; 605 nm; RBO) and far-red light (FR; 742 nm; RBFR), were set up during this experiment. A combination of R and B with a ratio of 4:1 and PFD of 200 μmol·m−2·s−1 was set as the control (RB). The responses of lettuce growth, morphology, anatomical structure of the lettuce leaf, photosynthetic performance, lettuce nutritional quality, and energy use efficiency were investigated. The results showed that RBG, RBO, and RBFR increased the shoot fresh weight of lettuce by 20.5%, 19.6%, and 40.4%, and they increased the shoot dry weight of lettuce by 24.2%, 13.4%, and 45.2%, respectively, compared with those under RB. The Pn under RBY was significantly lower than that under RB, although no significant differences in chlorophyll or carotenoid content were found between RBY and RB. RBG increased the lettuce leaf area, the thickness of the leaf palisade tissue, Pn, and light use efficiency compared with those under RB. Plants grown under RBO showed better photosynthetic capacity, such as higher Pn, ΦPSII, and other photosynthetic parameters. RBFR caused an increase in lettuce leaf area and energy use efficiency, but a decrease in leaf thickness and Pn of the single leaf. Moreover, tipburn injury was observed under RBFR. Therefore, these results demonstrate that RBG and RBO can be considered optimal combinations of light wavelengths for lettuce growth in a PFAL in this experiment, although plant growth can also be improved by using RBFR.

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Zhong-Hua Bian, Rui-Feng Cheng, Qi-Chang Yang, Jun Wang and Chungui Lu

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown great potential for plant growth and development, with higher luminous efficiency and more flexible and feasible spectral control compared with other artificial lighting. The combined effects of red and blue (RB) LED with or without green (G) LED light and white LED light on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) growth and physiology, including nitrate content, chlorophyll fluorescence, and phytochemical concentration before harvest, were investigated. Continuous light exposure at preharvest can effectively reduce nitrate accumulation and increase phytochemical concentrations in lettuce plants. Nitrate accumulation is dependent on the spectral composition and duration of treatment: lettuce exposed to continuous RB (with or without G) LED light with a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 200 µmol·m−2·s−1 exhibited a remarkable decrease in nitrate content at 24 hour compared with white LED light treatment at the same PPF. In addition, RB LED light (R:B = 4:1) was more effective than white LED light at the same PPF in facilitating lettuce growth. Moreover, continuous LED light for 24 hours significantly enhanced free-radical scavenging activity and increased phenolic compound concentrations. We suggest that 24 hours continuous RB LED with G light exposure can be used to decrease nitrate content and enhance lettuce quality.