Plants use sunlight for photosynthesis: the absorbed sunlight drives plant growth. When sunlight varies smoothly in time, the photosynthesis process is very well able to adjust to those variations. However, in nature, light that impinges on leaves varies rapidly, due to passing clouds and varying shadows of leaves higher up in the canopy (swaying and fluttering of leaves). On the time scale of these variations (sub seconds to tens of minutes) the plants cannot adjust photosynthesis directly, but do so with a delay. On average, this results in a reduced daily photosynthesis. High-frequency data on sunlight variations is scarce, especially data measured within a canopy. To understand better the variations in sunlight that leaves in lower layers experience, it is worthwhile to know how the architecture of the canopy influences these sunlight variations. In this MSc project, high-frequency (10 Hz) radiation observations will be combined with high-resolution, 3D imaged data (e.g. https://www.npec.nl/about-npec/overview-equipment-tools/traitseeker-and-uavs/) to explore the relationship between sunlight intensity fluctuations within a canopy and canopy architectural traits like canopy height, leaf area index (LAI) and leaf inclination angle distribution. The measurements will be performed on at least 3 crop canopies (summer wheat, potato and maize) close to Wageningen campus.
In this project, you will investigate 3D imaged data that possibly will be obtained using the TraitSeeker: a self-driven phenotyping platform operated at Unifarm. From the data, parameters related to canopy architecture (i.e. canopy height, LAI, leaf inclination angle distribution) can be derived. These parameters influence irradiance fluctuations in the canopy. Optionally, a leaf-level photosynthesis model will be scaled up to the canopy, using the architectural data collected.
Interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis at HPP? Please contact the HPP student coordinator Katharina Hanika.