Researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre have developed a first ever method for accurately and simultaneously measuring the photosynthesis of nearly 1,500 plants over the course of several weeks. In addition to photosynthesis, the robot also measures the growth and movements of plants throughout the day and night. Besides plant breeding research, the equipment has major potential for fundamental scientific research into the improvement of photosynthesis in plants.
Researchers of Wageningen UR (among which Mark Aarts - Genetics - and Jeremy Harbinson - Horticulture and Product Physiology) presented the hi-tech robot Phenovator in the scientific journal Plant Methods. The Phenovator takes eight photos of the plants a couple of times a day at different light wavelengths, from deep red to blue light. The extent to which the chloroplasts react to a certain wavelength shows how effective the photosynthesis is at that point in time. The robot uses the images in the other wavelengths to measure the size and colour of all the plants. This lets researchers measure the photosynthesis, growth and movement of the plants day and night.