Plot-level rapid screening for photosynthetic parameters using proximal hyperspectral imaging

Katherine Meacham-Hensold, Peng Fu, Jin Wu, Shawn Serbin, Christopher M. Montes, Elizabeth Ainsworth, Kaiyu Guan, Evan Dracup, Taylor Pederson, Steven Driever, Carl Bernacchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photosynthesis is currently measured using time-laborious and/or destructive methods which slows research and breeding efforts to identify crop germplasm with higher photosynthetic capacities. We present a plot-level screening tool for quantification of photosynthetic parameters and pigment contents that utilizes hyperspectral reflectance from sunlit leaf pixels collected from a plot (∼2 m×2 m) in <1 min. Using field-grown Nicotiana tabacum with genetically altered photosynthetic pathways over two growing seasons (2017 and 2018), we built predictive models for eight photosynthetic parameters and pigment traits. Using partial least squares regression (PLSR) analysis of plot-level sunlit vegetative reflectance pixels from a single visible near infra-red (VNIR) (400-900 nm) hyperspectral camera, we predict maximum carboxylation rate of Rubisco (Vc,max, R2=0.79) maximum electron transport rate in given conditions (J1800, R2=0.59), maximal light-saturated photosynthesis (Pmax, R2=0.54), chlorophyll content (R2=0.87), the Chl a/b ratio (R2=0.63), carbon content (R2=0.47), and nitrogen content (R2=0.49). Model predictions did not improve when using two cameras spanning 400-1800 nm, suggesting a robust, widely applicable and more 'cost-effective' pipeline requiring only a single VNIR camera. The analysis pipeline and methods can be used in any cropping system with modified species-specific PLSR analysis to offer a high-throughput field phenotyping screening for germplasm with improved photosynthetic performance in field trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2312-2328
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 6 2020


  • Field phenotyping
  • food security
  • hyperspectral imaging
  • photosynthesis
  • proximal sensing
  • spectral reflectance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Plot-level rapid screening for photosynthetic parameters using proximal hyperspectral imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this