Estimating leaf photosynthesis of C3 plants grown under different environments from pigment index, photochemical reflectance index, and chlorophyll fluorescence

Katsuto Tsujimoto, Kouki Hikosaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Photosynthetic rates vary depending on growth conditions, even within species. Remote sensing techniques have a great potential to predict the photosynthetic rates of leaves with different characteristics. Here, we demonstrate that the photosynthetic rates of leaves acclimated to different light and nutrient conditions can be estimated based on the chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF), the photochemical reflectance index (PRI), and a chlorophyll index. Chenopodium album plants were grown under different light and nutrient conditions. PRI, ChlF parameters, and CO2/H2O gas exchange rates of leaves were simultaneously determined under the various light and CO2 conditions. PRI was used to assess non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), but the relationship between NPQ and PRI was weakened when the data on leaves grown under different conditions were pooled, because PRI in darkness (PRI) changed with the leaf pigment composition. Among 15 pigment indices, we found that NDVI green, a reflectance index related to the leaf chlorophyll content, had the best correlation with PRI (r2= 0.89) across the studied leaves, and the correction of PRI by NDVI green improved the predictability of NPQ (r2= 0.82). Using the steady-state ChlF, the NPQ estimated from PRI and NDVI green, and the stomatal conductance coefficient, we calculated the CO2 assimilation rates, which were strongly correlated with the actual rates (RMSE = 4.85 μmol m- 2 s- 1), irrespective of growth conditions. Our approach has the potential to contribute to a more accurate estimation of photosynthetic rates in remote sensing. However, further studies on species variations and connecting with radiative transfer models are needed to demonstrate this at the canopy scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May


  • Gas exchange
  • Leaf chlorophyll content
  • Light acclimation
  • Low nitrogen
  • NPQ
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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