, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 614–626 | Cite as

A portable reflectance-absorptance-transmittance meter for photosynthetic work on vascular plant leaves

  • R. J. RitchieEmail author
  • J. W. Runcie
Original Papers


PAM (pulse amplitude modulation) fluorometers can be used to estimate the electron transport rate (ETR) [μmol(e) m−2 s−1] from photosynthetic yield determinations, provided the absorptance (\(Ab{t_\lambda }\)) of the photoorganism is known. The standard assumed value used for absorptance is 0.84 (leaf absorptance factor, AbtF). We described a reflectance-absorptancetransmittance (RAT) meter for routine experimental measurements of the actual absorptance of leaves. The RAT uses a red-green-blue (RGB) LED diode light source to measure absorptances at wavelengths suitable for use with PAM fluorometers and infrared gas analysers. Results using the RAT were compared to \(Ab{t_\lambda }\) spectra using a Taylor integrating sphere on bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus), banana, Doryanthes excelsa, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, and sugarcane. Parallel venation had no significant effect upon Abt465 in banana, Doryanthes, a Dendrobium orchid, pineapple, and sugarcane, but there was a slight difference in the case of the fern A. nidus. The average Abt465 (≈ 0.96) and Abt625 (≈ 0.89) were ≈14% and 6% higher than the standard value (AbtF = 0.84). The PAR-range Abt400–700 was only ≈ 5% higher than the standard value (≈ 0.88) based on averaged absorptance from the blue, green, and red light data and from where the RGB-diode was used as a ‘white’ light source. In some species, absorptances at blue and red wavelengths are quite different (e.g. water lily). Reflectance measurements of leaves using the RAT would also be useful for remote sensing studies.

Additional key words

absorptance electron transport rate integrating sphere leaf absorptance factor PAM fluorometry reflectance 



allocation factor of photons to PSII between PSII and PSI

\(Ab{t_\lambda }\)

absorptance at a given wavelength or wavelength range


default leaf absorptance factor


confidence limit


irradiance [μmol(photon) m−2 s−1] PPFD


absolute electron transport rate


relative electron transport rate

PAM fluorometry

pulse amplitude modulation fluorometry


gross photosynthesis








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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tropical Environmental Plant Biology Unit, Faculty of Technology and EnvironmentPrince of Songkla UniversityPhuketThailand
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Aquation Pty LtdUmina BeachAustralia

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