, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 511–518 | Cite as

A comparison of seasonal foliar chlorophyll change among ecotypes and cultivars of Andropogon gerardii (Poaceae) by using nondestructive and destructive methods

  • K. L. Caudle
  • L. C. Johnson
  • S. G. Baer
  • B. R. Maricle
Original Papers


Leaf chlorophyll (Chl) concentration can be an indicator of plant health, including photosynthetic potential and nutrient status. In some cases, this measure can indicate the degree to which plants are water-stressed. Traditional methods of measuring Chl concentration have involved a destructive sampling technique: extraction and spectrophotometric analysis. A compatible nondestructive method to measure leaf Chl concentration exists and applies transmittance spectroscopy to plants with a Minolta SPAD-502 meter. These techniques were evaluated by comparing leaf Chl concentration in big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). Leaves were sampled from plants representing three ecotypes (originating from Central Kansas, Eastern Kansas, and Illinois, USA) and two cultivars of A. gerardii growing in Hays, Kansas, USA. Leaf Chl concentration was measured using nondestructive and destructive techniques. We documented a saturating relationship between destructively measured leaf Chl concentration and SPAD index resulting from a decelerating change in SPAD index as Chl concentration increased. The comparison of A. gerardii ecotypes and cultivars demonstrated highest Chl concentration in the ecotype and cultivar from areas with historically low precipitation, Central Kansas and A. gerardii var. hallii, respectively. A high ratio of Chl a to Chl b is an index of drought adaptation and was also manifested in A. gerardii from drier regions. Thus, drought-adapted ecotypes and cultivars might be able to maintain high photosynthetic productivity and protect photosystem II during dry periods. Conversely, the ecotypes and cultivar originating from areas with higher precipitation had lower leaf Chl and a lower Chl a/b ratio.

Additional key words

drought; grassland populations pigments prairie precipitation gradient sand bluestem tallgrass prairie 




Chl a/b

ratio of chlorophyll a to chlorophyll b concentration


fresh mass






soil plant analysis development


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. L. Caudle
    • 1
  • L. C. Johnson
    • 2
  • S. G. Baer
    • 3
  • B. R. Maricle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFort Hays State UniversityHaysUSA
  2. 2.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Plant Biology and Center for EcologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

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