What is the most prominent factor limiting photosynthesis in different layers of a greenhouse cucumber canopy?

Chen, T.W.; Henke, M.; Visser, P.H.B. de; Buck-Sorlin, G.H.; Wiechers, D.; Kahlen, K.; Stützel, H.


Background and Aims Maximizing photosynthesis at the canopy level is important for enhancing crop yield, and this requires insights into the limiting factors of photosynthesis. Using greenhouse cucumber (Cucumis sativus) as an example, this study provides a novel approach to quantify different components of photosynthetic limitations at the leaf level and to upscale these limitations to different canopy layers and the whole plant. Methods A static virtual three-dimensional canopy structure was constructed using digitized plant data in GroIMP. Light interception of the leaves was simulated by a ray-tracer and used to compute leaf photosynthesis. Different components of photosynthetic limitations, namely stomatal (S-L), mesophyll (M-L), biochemical (B-L) and light (L-L) limitations, were calculated by a quantitative limitation analysis of photosynthesis under different light regimes. Key Results In the virtual cucumber canopy, BL and LL were the most prominent factors limiting whole-plant photosynthesis. Diffusional limitations (S-L + M-L) contributed