Does a diel cycle shorter than 24h or continuous light positively affect lettuce growth and light use efficiency; is this response genotype dependent?

Vertical Farming is a new model in food production with high water, fertilizer and land use efficiency compared to traditional cultivation. No pesticides are applied and since this novel system allows worldwide cultivation, it reduces food mileage promoting local production (even within urban areas!). Vertical farm is also revolutionary due to full control of the growth environment which is not possible in open field or greenhouse production. However, the high investment costs and energy use are challenges its profitability and sustainability.

Plants have developed an internal pacemaker (circadian clock) that assures that key physiological processes (photosynthesis, stomata, sugar metabolism, etc) occur at the right time of the day and season. Little is known about lettuce growth under different diel cycles and vertical farming is the opportunity to “hack” the plant circadian clock, enhance growth, and increase light use efficiency, resulting in vertical farms more sustainable.

The MSc thesis work will focus on the effect of light intensity, photoperiod length and diel cycle length (photoperiod + noctoperiod) ≠ 24 hrs.

Used skills

Climate chamber experiments:

  • Plant growth measurements
  • Gas exchange
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence

Lab work:

  • Sugar analysis HPLC
  • RT‐(q)PCR of clock genes

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