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Quantifying Chlorophyll in leaves using a non-destructive method with the UniSpec-SC


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Chlorophyll is a driver of the physiological function of leaves. Quantifying chlorophyll content can provide information regarding the physiological state of leaves. Chlorophyll tends to decline rapidly when plants are under stress or during leaf senescence (Gitelson & Merzlyak 1994). It is very vital to understand the pattern of the pigment content change if we are to understand plant/ecosystem function.

Most of traditional methods of pigment analysis (e.g. high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)) require destruction of the measured leaves which are not ideal to obtain long term data (Sims and Gamon, 2002). It is also time consuming and expensive to process the samples. A research group directed by Dr. John A. Gamon at California State University, Los Angeles has applied a non-destructive method using UniSpec-SC to measure the spectral reflectance of intact leaves. They compare the leaf spectral reflectance with leaf pigment (e.g. chlorophyll) content, leaf water content and the rate of the photosynthesis. They have used this approach to measure the leaves of different species including evergreen shrub species and annual grasses across different seasons. Leaf structural differences among species (i.e. thickness, density, cuticle thickness and pubescence) will have significant effects on the relationships between leaf spectral reflectance and leaf physiological pattern (Sims and Gamon, 2002).

Researchers from California State University are using the UniSpec-SC to measure chaparral species spectral response at Sky Oaks Biological Field Station.

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