Precision Agriculture

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 34–44

Temporal and spatial changes of chlorophyll fluorescence as a basis for early and precise detection of leaf rust and powdery mildew infections in wheat leaves



Temporal and spatial changes in parameters of fast chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics (ground fluorescence, Fo and maximal fluorescence, Fm) and red/NIR reflectance were assessed with a Pulse-Amplitude-Modulated (PAM)-Imaging system on a daily basis over a period of 2 weeks following inoculation of wheat leaves with powdery mildew and leaf rust. The early detection of these infections by means of fluorescence imaging was possible 2–3 days before visual symptoms or significant changes in normalised-differenced-vegetation index (NDVI) became apparent. The initial infection of both fungi caused an increase in Fo and decrease in photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm, Fv/Fo). The appearance and development of fungal pustules was accompanied by reduction in Fo and Fm. This resulted mainly from lower absorption of fluorescence exciting light by the leaf mesophyll due to the shielding effect of fungal mycelium, and to lesser extent from the chlorophyll breakdown underneath pustules. Among the evaluated fluorescence parameters, Fv/Fo displayed the most pronounced response to both kinds of infection. Mildew infection influenced chlorophyll fluorescence neither in the direct vicinity of mycelium nor in the apparently healthy leaf regions. Rust infected plants, in contrast, displayed significantly reduced photochemical efficiency Fv/Fm and Fv/Fo in chlorotic tissue around pustules. The same, but less pronounced tendency was found in the apparently healthy regions of rust infected leaves in the last days of the experiment. Dark adaptation of leaves proved to be necessary for accurate detection of both pathogen infections by means of fluorescence imaging. Additional experiments are needed to estimate the potential of this technique for remote sensing under field conditions.


Chlorophyll fluorescence NDVI Pathogen Discrimination 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES)-Horticultural ScienceUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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