A joint lab for advanced plant and crop photosynthesis physiology

The photosynthesis lab is an initiative of the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis (CSA) and the Horticulture and Product Physiology group (HPP) to jointly advance the level of photosynthesis research in Wageningen. In this lab, expertise and experimentation on photosynthesis come together, from the (sub-)leaf to the crop level and associated physiological processes. The lab combines advanced measuring techniques and data-analysis, to develop the next generation of plant and crop photosynthesis research and teaching.


Photosynthesis is a shared research interest the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis (CSA) and the Horticulture and Product Physiology group (HPP). Both groups have an excellent track record and recently invested in new tenure track positions and (mobile) measurement equipment for photosynthesis. To become truly world-leading, both groups recognise the need to increase critical mass of people and equipment, build on strengths and grow stronger by (international) collaboration through a shared HPP/CSA photosynthesis-lab.

Project description

The project aims to achieve a lab for:

Development and use of novel photosynthesis measuring techniques Novel measuring techniques, for example, integrating multiple optical measurement techniques (Chlorophyll Fluorescence (PSII), absorbance changes (PSI) and Electrochromic Shift (ECS) with gas exchange for simultaneous measurements of CO2, H2O, electron and proton-fluxes in photosynthesis.
In-depth physiological research on climate-plant-interactions How do plants adapt their photosynthesis to the environment they grown in? What are the effects of climate change? The lab investigates that with state-of-art measurement equipment to unravel the physiological basis of these interactions and effects. For example, the interaction of photosynthesis with light (including spectrum and LED!), temperature, humidity and CO2, for leaves, plants or even small canopies.
Learning by developing video’s/manuals/course material for using equipment and methods for photosynthesis research Teaching and/or science communication are important to convey research to young scientists (of all ages!). The lab aims to train the next generation of scientists in all things photosynthesis. We develop instruction video’s, manuals or entire readers about photosynthesis and how to measure it.


The lab has developed a method for carbon isotope discrimination during gas exchange (CID-GE) measurements, enabling research on e.g. CO2 diffusion within leaves (mesophyll conductance), transitions between C3 and C4 carboxylation in CAM plants, etc. The lab has also developed a combined system for simultaneous measurement of CID-GE and PSI/PSII efficiency, to study the very basis of plant productivity; light energy partitioning to carbon assimilation. 

The lab has acquired and installed a high-precision Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (IRMS), with gas mixing systems, trapping lines and specialised technical lab assistance.  


A custom built system for simultaneous PSI/PSII efficiency measurements has been developed, with a dual absorbance change and pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM) system. This custom-built system is also capable of measuring so-called electro-chromic shift (ECS), to allow estimation of e.g thylakoid proton flux and conductivity. 

This project continues to develop methods for leaf, whole plant and canopy gas exchange of CO2, H2O and O2.