Dynamic Environmental Photosynthetic Imaging Reveals Emergent Phenotypes

Jeffrey A. Cruz, Linda J. Savage, Robert Zegarac, Christopher C. Hall, Mio Satoh-Cruz, Geoffry A. Davis, William Kent Kovac, Jin Chen, David M. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Understanding and improving the productivity and robustness of plant photosynthesis requires high-throughput phenotyping under environmental conditions that are relevant to the field. Here we demonstrate the dynamic environmental photosynthesis imager (DEPI), an experimental platform for integrated, continuous, and high-throughput measurements of photosynthetic parameters during plant growth under reproducible yet dynamic environmental conditions. Using parallel imagers obviates the need to move plants or sensors, reducing artifacts and allowing simultaneous measurement on large numbers of plants. As a result, DEPI can reveal phenotypes that are not evident under standard laboratory conditions but emerge under progressively more dynamic illumination. We show examples in mutants of Arabidopsis of such "emergent phenotypes" that are highly transient and heterogeneous, appearing in different leaves under different conditions and depending in complex ways on both environmental conditions and plant developmental age. These emergent phenotypes appear to be caused by a range of phenomena, suggesting that such previously unseen processes are critical for plant responses to dynamic environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-377
Number of pages13
JournalCell Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 22 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors.


  • abiotic stress
  • biotic stress
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • imaging
  • phenometrics
  • phenomics
  • photosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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