Can a low-cost chlorophyll fluorescence imager be used to monitor plant performance?

Monitoring plant performance in the greenhouse is essential to achieve an optimal and automatic control of the climate that can respond to changes in plant performance. In research studies, leaf chlorophyll fluorescence is often monitored in greenhouses, as it provides a proxy for photosynthesis and yield. However, traditional sensors are limited by their measuring area (a few cm2) and by their cost (>5k€), which so far has made their use in large horticultural greenhouse a challenge. Here, we choose to test a combination of a low-cost camera sensor, light control system, and models (data- and/or process-based) to monitor plant performance over large areas. Although this will address the shortcoming of existing sensors, it also comes with the need to develop new interpretations of the signal, which currently requires a saturating pulse of light. Example of alternative chlorophyll fluorescence imaging techniques exist in the literature (Gould et al., 2009; Mohammed et al., 2019) and can be used as a starting point. Additionally, the partial or total light control in greenhouses and vertical farms can be exploited to produce a modulated signal that simplifies interpretations compared to open-field studies.

In this project, you will develop a new method based on a low-cost camera sensor capturing leaf chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics in response to light changes. The method will be compared to traditional chlorophyll fluorometers. Once validated under controlled conditions, the method will be tested under greenhouse conditions.

Used skills

  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Data analysis
  • Python programming


Gould, P.D., Diaz, P., Hogben, C., Kusakina, J., Salem, R., Hartwell, J. and Hall, A., 2009. Delayed fluorescence as a universal tool for the measurement of circadian rhythms in higher plants. The Plant Journal, 58(5), pp.893-901.

Mohammed, G.H., Colombo, R., Middleton, E.M., Rascher, U., van der Tol, C., Nedbal, L., Goulas, Y., Pérez-Priego, O., Damm, A., Meroni, M. and Joiner, J., 2019. Remote sensing of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) in vegetation: 50 years of progress. Remote sensing of environment, 231, p.111177.

Interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis at HPP? Please contact the HPP student coordinator Katharina Hanika.