Diffuse light has been shown to alter plant leaf photosynthesis, transpiration and water-use efficiency. Despite this, the angular distribution of light for the artificial light sources used with common gas exchange systems is unknown. Here, we quantify the angular distribution of light from common gas exchange systems and demonstrate the use of an integrating sphere for manipulating those light distributions. Among three different systems, light from a 90° angle perpendicular to the leaf surface (±5.75°) was <25% of the total light reaching the leaf surface. The integrating sphere resulted in a greater range of possible distributions from predominantly direct light (i.e., >40% of light from a 90 ± 5.75° angle perpendicular to the leaf surface) to almost entirely diffuse (i.e., light from an even distribution drawn from a nearly 0° horizontal angle to a perpendicular 90° angle). The integrating sphere can thus create light environments that more closely mimic the variation in sunlight under both clear and cloudy conditions. In turn, different proportions of diffuse light increased, decreased or did not change photosynthetic rates depending on the plant species observed. This new tool should allow the scientific community to explore new and creative questions about plant function within the context of global climate change.
Berry, Z. C., Larue, J. & Goldsmith, G. R. (2022) Quantifying and manipulating the angles of light in experimental measurements of plant gas exchange. Plant, Cell & Environment, 1– 8. https://doi.org/10.1111/pce.14309