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Corrected photochemical reflectance index (PRI) is an effective tool for detecting environmental stresses in agricultural crops under light conditions

Abstract

High-throughput detection of plant environmental stresses is required for minimizing the reduction in crop yield. Environmental stresses in plants have primarily been validated by the measurements of photosynthesis with gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence, which involve complicated procedures. Remote sensing technologies that monitor leaf reflectance in intact plants enable real-time visualization of plant responses to environmental fluctuations. The photochemical reflectance index (PRI), one of the vegetation indices of spectral leaf reflectance, is related to changes in xanthophyll pigment composition. Xanthophyll dynamics are strongly correlated with plant stress because they contribute to the thermal dissipation of excess energy. However, an accurate assessment of plant stress based on PRI requires correction by baseline PRI (PRIo) in the dark, which is difficult to obtain in the field. In this study, we propose a method to correct the PRI using NPQT, which can be measured under light. By this method, we evaluated responses of excess light energy stress under drought in wild watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L.), a xerophyte. Demonstration on the farm, the stress behaviors were observed in maize (Zea mays L.). Furthermore, the stress status of plants and their recovery following re-watering were captured as visual information. These results suggest that the PRI is an excellent indicator of environmental stress and recovery in plants and could be used as a high-throughput stress detection tool in agriculture.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Masumi Toyosawa (Tohoku University), Takae Usui (Okinawa Agricultural Research Center), Yoshitomo Yamada (Okinawa Agricultural Research Center), Keiko Chibana, Hiroshi Matsuda, and Japan Agricultural Cooperatives in Okinawa for assistance with agricultural field preparation and plant cultivation. We also thank the Advanced Bioimaging Support (ABiS) platform for assistance with image analysis.

Funding

This work was supported in part by KAKENHI [grant numbers 18K05592, 18J40098 to KK and 18H03350, 17H03727, 25660113 to KH], Naito Foundation to KK, the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (2-1903) of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan to KH, a research grant from Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. to KH, and Ichimura foundation for new technology to KK.

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Correspondence to Kaori Kohzuma.

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Kohzuma, K., Tamaki, M. & Hikosaka, K. Corrected photochemical reflectance index (PRI) is an effective tool for detecting environmental stresses in agricultural crops under light conditions. J Plant Res 134, 683–694 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-021-01316-1

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Keywords

  • Environmental stress
  • Leaf reflectance
  • Photochemical reflectance index
  • Photosynthesis
  • Xanthophyll cycle